Medal of Honor Recipient Sergeant Gary B. Beikirch and the best speech I ever heard
Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish. Psalm 49:20 KCJ
The other day was Medal of Honor day, and unfortunately, I was out with some back injuries that have been bothering me really bad. If you've noticed I've missed a lot of postings lately, it's because I can only sit upright for about 4 hours a day, and then have to get into bed. Even then I am in excurciating pain. Hopefully that won't last too long. But I wanted to make up for it by doing something on the Medal and those who wear it today.
I've always said the best speech I ever heard was Sal Giunta (a man I am proud to call a friend), which was largely because I'd been with him for a few hours before the speech, and as he was going up he asked how long to talk for. Ut oh I thought, this won't be good, he has nothing prepared. He didn't need anything, it was the most amazing thing, he had them eating out of the palm of his hand.
But as for speeches that really touched me deeply, none has ever come close to this speech by Gary Beikirch at the Medal of Honor Days down in Gainesvlle, Texas. I'm going to do this is reverse order, because his citation (as amazing as it is) really isn't the story:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Beikirch, medical aidman, Detachment B-24, Company B, distinguished himself during the defense of Camp Dak Seang. The allied defenders suffered a number of casualties as a result of an intense, devastating attack launched by the enemy from well-concealed positions surrounding the camp. Sgt. Beikirch, with complete disregard for his personal safety, moved unhesitatingly through the withering enemy fire to his fallen comrades, applied first aid to their wounds and assisted them to the medical aid station. When informed that a seriously injured American officer was lying in an exposed position, Sgt. Beikirch ran immediately through the hail of fire. Although he was wounded seriously by fragments from an exploding enemy mortar shell, Sgt. Beikirch carried the officer to a medical aid station. Ignoring his own serious injuries, Sgt. Beikirch left the relative safety of the medical bunker to search for and evacuate other men who had been injured. He was again wounded as he dragged a critically injured Vietnamese soldier to the medical bunker while simultaneously applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to sustain his life. Sgt. Beikirch again refused treatment and continued his search for other casualties until he collapsed. Only then did he permit himself to be treated. Sgt. Beikirch's complete devotion to the welfare of his comrades, at the risk of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Now, PLEASE, I am begging you, set aside some time and watch this speech.
When I heard the speech I feel overwhelming guilt, and did everything I could do to fight back tears. I immediately called my wife and told her what he'd said, and the first thing she said was "I hope you didn't ask him where the cave is." My wife gets me. I've wanted to live in that cave without even knowing it since I got home, and I didn't see ANYTHING like what Mr. Beikirch saw.
I hope everyone gets a chance to watch, and think about what their cave is. I never fell prey to drinking or truly dangerous behaviour, mostly probably because I got out of the Army on a Friday and started Law School the next day.
But every day I can hear that cave calling. It's hard not to listen to it at times. Who wouldn't want to escape from everyday life and just live in peace that way. For Mr. Beikirch, he came out of if because of his wife, the same reason I didn't go into the cave, and for generations of men and women who he served as guidance counselor too at the High School, I thank God he did.
The American Legion also did a video with Gary: