Seth Moulton, an Iraq veteran and Democratic congressional candidate on Massachusetts’s North Shore, has done something with little precedent in political campaigning: He was caught underplaying his war record.
You read that right: An investigation by the Boston Globe found that, unlike politicians who go to great lengths to puff up their military backgrounds, Moulton, as the paper’s Walter Robinson wrote, “chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe.”
It took Robinson’s reporting to discover that Moulton had won the Bronze Star and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for valor during the battles for control of Najaf and Nasiriyah.
In a telephone interview, Moulton said his reluctance reflected a “healthy disrespect” among his comrades-in-arms for boasting about citations…
And that reminds me of this other hero who prefers to remain unsung, which Dave Crockett called to our attention on an earlier post — the one who rescued a sick old man from a burning house, then melted away and did his best to remain anonymous:
Tom Artiaga groaned as the reporters starting banging on his door.
“I didn’t want the glory,” he says sheepishly, wearing the same blue Dodgers cap he had on as he walked calmly towards Wells’ burning home. “I don’t want it.”
Artiaga can barely look at me as I prod him, so uncomfortable is he talking about himself.
Artiaga says he was driving by when he saw the fire and heard the screaming about the trapped man inside. He parked his white truck and walked slowly towards the fire. The 49-year-old devoted husband, father of three and grandfather of five didn’t think about what he had to lose. A man who spends his free time helping out elderly people in his neighborhood with their gardens naturally thought about what he could do to help….
Artiaga saw his picture in the paper and the video on the local news. He couldn’t escape the video that was flying across Facebook and Twitter. He hoped his wife wouldn’t find out because he didn’t tell her. He hoped the story would fade and he could go back to his job as a delivery man for a liquor company, without anyone connecting the video to him.
“Why,” I ask. “Most of us liked to be thanked.”
Artiaga’s eyes begin to fill with emotion. “We have to help each other out. We kill each other. We fight. We gotta help each other out. I don’t feel like a hero. If it was someone else, I’d help them, too.”