Janet, Paul, Tim, Niccole and all the family and friends of Sergeant First Class Jared Monti. All together, I think you’re the size of several platoons. Of all the tributes that have been offered this week, perhaps the most moving is the presence of so many of you who loved Jared so much.
I was honored to spend a few moments in my office with Janet and Paul and the family. This family has endured loss that few will ever know, and your love and pride in Jared shines for all to see. I know this has been an emotional week. And we are here to make it official, to formally induct Jared into our Hall of Heroes. So I will be brief.
Yesterday, the President shared the remarkable story of Jared’s service with the entire nation. General Chiarelli just recounted the uncommon valor that Jared displayed that night on the mountain. Secretary Geren has reminded us that even as we honor Jared for acts of heroism, we pay tribute to his life and those who loved him. I want to spend just a few moments on the meaning of this Medal.
We have heard it many times this week. “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” But what does this mean? What does this really mean?
“Gallantry”—not simply courage, but a nobility of the spirit. Not simply the deed itself, but the devotion behind it. Not simply what is done, but what is felt—in the heart, in the soul.
And not just “gallantry,” but “conspicuous gallantry.” You don’t have to go looking for it.
It is there—it all its glory, in all its greatness—for all to see. It is obvious. It stands out. It is uncommon.
“Intrepidness”—often understood to be fearlessness. But those who have seen war—for all the hardship and horror that it really is—they will be the first to agree. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
“In action.” The Medal of Honor is not bestowed for service in peace or far from the front. It is reserved for those who are there—in “military operations…engaged in action…against an enemy of the United States.”
“At the risk of his life”—the knowledge, the recognition that the actions they are about to take, could well take their own life; that the chance of losing one’s life is not simply possible, it is probable. The danger is indisputable. The consequences are clear. And yet they do it anyway.
“Above and beyond the call of duty”—because duty compels certain things, certain responsibilities. But this is something more. Training cannot account for it. Others do not expect it. Indeed, many others might not do it. This is not simply answering the call of duty. This is truly “above. This is truly “beyond.”
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
These are high criteria. And as the President noted yesterday, the Medal of Honor has been in existence for nearly 150 years. And in all the wars in all those years, tens of millions of Americans have served in the armed forces. But fewer than 3,500 have been recognized with the Medal of Honor. And in a few moments we will see the name of Sergeant First Class Jared Monti listed among them—rightly, properly, now and forever.
Janet, Paul and the entire Monti family, you gave your son to the Army and then Jared gave himself for a fellow soldier. He is missed and honored by his unit, by the 10th Mountain Division and by the entire Army. But please know this. Today, every soldier, every sailor, every airmen, every Marine, every civilian in this Department of Defense—more than 3 million of us—salute your son.
And as we remember Jared’s life—those pictures with his smiling face aglow; as we recall his days in those mountains—hiking up in the early morning; that firefight as the sun went down; as we honor the heroism for which he receives this Medal, we think of words penned in another time but which could have been written just for Jared:
He was young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
His was staunch to end against odds uncounted;
He fell with his face to the foe.
He shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary him, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember him.
Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti. We salute him. We honor him. And we will always remember him.