No one agrees on anything anymore. Not in 2018. Over the years, the word “hero” has been watered down and overused to describe politicians or athletes or entertainers. The word means something different to everyone now.
But make no mistake, James Banda was a hero. It cannot be disputed or overstated. Cut from the cloth of the greatest generation, he risked life and limb in the face of tyranny and oppression, while exhibiting the essence of American spirit and resolve.
On January 26, at 96 years of age, Mr. Banda passed away peacefully. In an age of disagreement and uncertainty, reflecting on Mr. Banda’s life and sacrifice bring to light a stark reminder of true heroism and courage on the largest stage, in what was our world’s most harrowing chapter.
A member of Patton’s 2nd Armor Division, a veteran of the storming of Normandy, Mr. Banda would speak only of the heroism of his fellow soldier throughout the rest of his life. The warrior puts the health and success of his compatriot above all else, and he was no different. He crawled under burning tanks to rescue the lives of his fellow men. He received a Bronze Star for his actions.
Mr. Banda found himself in a foxhole in Europe in 1944, as German bombed rained down on him. It took four years for the medicine of the time to get him on his feet again. Still, he made no excuses. He received a Purple Heart for his wounds.
Mr. Banda’s life should be celebrated daily. As we strive towards a more perfect union, we must never forget the sacrifice of one of our nation’s favorite sons. The greatness of the United States is not the product of any one individual’s actions. The greatness of our country is rooted in fighting spirit and a hope in a better tomorrow that drives those actions. Selflessness and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds are what form the bedrock of this grand democratic experiment. From the sandy Normandy shores to the unforgiving Afghanistan mountains, that is the fuel that stokes the fire in the belly of every soldier who has donned the uniform of the United States.
Mr. Banda was a soldier.
An American hero.
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