A humble hero has emerged for cynical voters suffering a bombardment of boastful political ads.
The Boston Globe reported that Seth W. Moulton, a former Marine and Democratic nominee for Congress in Massachusetts’ Sixth Congressional District, was twice decorated for heroism during battles with Iraqi insurgents in 2003 and 2004. Moulton earned the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation for valor.
But he didn’t tell anyone. Not even his parents.
At least not until The Boston Globe got ahold of his military record and began asking questions.
It’s a rare case of a newspaper imploring a politician to talk about himself, and a surprising example of political humility in a time when Americans don’t trust much—especially their government. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked Americans to grade Congress. Only twelve percent of respondents approved of the work being done by the legislators. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) handling of West African Ebola outbreak caused Americans to significantly doubt the agency. A CBS News Poll found only 37 percent of respondents believe the CDC is doing an excellent or good job. That’s down from 60 percent in a May 2013 Gallup poll. Other government agencies got smacked down as well. Of the nine government agencies on the poll, only the FBI got a positive rating.
Americans may be down on the government, but they never tire of heroes. So why would a congressional candidate decide to hide his heroism from the voters? Moulton is a Harvard grad who opted to serve his country instead of himself. He didn’t have to flaunt his military service despite the fact that it would have likely won over voters.
Achievements of such heroism are impossible to overstate. Moulton received The Bronze Star medal for valor for responding to a Mahdi Militia attack on Iraqi security forces. First Lieutenant Moulton and his platoon came under intense mortar, rocket, sniper and machine gun fire at the Najaf main Iraqi police station. He defended this position for six hours, ignoring the exploding mortars and constant sniper fire to lead the Battalion’s assault on the enemy.
“He fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire throughout this engagement to direct the destruction of enemy mortar, which had wounded three of the Marines,” according to the official citation Moulton shared with no one.
Meanwhile, Scott Brown is touting his 35 years in the Army National Guard in his bid against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. If Brown had anything resembling the citations given to Moulton, you wouldn’t be reading about it here. It would be on a TV commercial 18 times a day.
Perhaps the distinction here is that Moulton is a soldier first, politician second. As a soldier, he told The Globe war stories are best left on the battlefield.
“There is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories,’’ Moulton said.