There are varying degrees of compassion, commitment and selflessnes. Those who sacrifice their lives for others or whose contributions directly change someone else's life are clearly at the top.
Medal of Honor
Everyone who serves in the military deserves our gratitude, but even among soldiers there are those who stand out. It isn't necessarily because they are braver, smarter or more skilled, but because they don't give a thought to themselves when others are in danger.
One man who exemplifies this is Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, who grew up in Spokane and is now stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the west side of the state. He recently received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, for his act of valor on Oct. 3, 2009, at an isolated post in northern Afghanistan. That's where an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground surrounded the camp and attacked with rifles, grenades, machine guns, mortars and other smaller weapons. Eight soldiers died that day.
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It was a horrific battle, but through it all Carter continually put his life in harm's way.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor website, Carter ran "twice through a 100-meter gauntlet of enemy fire to resupply ammunition and voluntarily remained there to the defend the isolated position." The website also said he was armed only with an M4 carbine rifle but was able to prevent the position from being overrun.
And he did this for several hours.
He also ran through a hail of enemy fire to rescue a wounded fellow soldier and bring him to safety. In addition, he also maneuvered through more enemy fire to retrieve the squad's radio from a fallen comrade, which was crucial in their evacuation.
Carter is only the fifth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
He is continuing to help his fellow soldiers by trying to bring awareness to the post-traumatic stress syndrome that many veterans suffer from after their service in the military.
Carter still is struggling with the mental and emotional wounds of that day and he is acknowledging his pain publicly in the hopes that it will help other soldiers with the condition to seek help.
Carter is an inspiration both on and off the battlefield. We thank him for his dedication and wish him well in his recovery.
Housing for the disabled
Finally, after years of hoping and planning, a new housing complex designed for disabled adults has broken ground in Kennewick. This project was a dream of the founders of Modern Living Services, a local nonprofit that has been in charge of getting the unique apartment complex built.
It came about from a support group started by Sherry Erickson of Kennewick for mothers of children with developmental disabilities. She came to realize that after these children finish high school, they often have no other option but to live with aging parents. The new apartment complex now gives disabled adults a different option.
The 14-unit complex should be ready for residents in about a year and is at Perry Street and Kennewick Avenue. The almost $3 million project is being paid for with money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, a Housing Trust Fund grant through the state Department of Commerce and funding from Benton County and the city of Kennewick.
We're thankful Erickson and her team didn't give up and persisted in trying to find a way to makes this project work. It fills a much-needed hole in the community and might pave the way for other, similar homes for the disabled.