To wit: "Although we may never know why it happened, we do know that heroic actions took place that day," Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo said in presenting the Secretary of the Army Award for Valor to Joleen Cahill, widow of Michael Grant Cahill. Cahill is recognized as the first person to have tried to stop Hasan and the only civilian to have been killed by Hasan that day. "He will forever be a source of inspiration."
Alas, I have my doubts about the deputy commanding general of Ft. Hood. Despite overwhelming evidence that Hasan committed an act of jihad, DiSalvo -- like the Army, like the U.S. government -- looks the other way. "We may never know why" the Hasan attack happened, DiSalvo said without, apparently, turning red or rolling his eyes.
It's hard to overstate the impact of these words. In honoring the very last thing Cahill did on this Earth, the general pointedly chose to omit its significance. Like a potent spell, his words made all the context of the 62-year-old Cahill's valorous act -- charging Hasan with a chair as Hasan fired on the crowd -- disappear. Of course, the general's omission takes nothing away from Cahill's courage. It does, however, wrongly release the rest of us from our debt to Cahill. In treating Hasan's rampage as no more purposeful than a flood or a cougar attack, the general has also reduced Cahill's ultimate sacrifice to its most personal level; exemplary, admirable, but of no consequence beyond the scene, outside the circle. This is morally wrong. It was the general's duty to place Cahill's death in perspective, to impress upon both his loved ones and his fellow citizens that he died not only to stop a bloodletting but also in defense of liberty, then and now under jihadist attack.