The struggle for dominance between two nuclear powers that began at the end of World War II came to be known as the Cold War. Both countries, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States recognized that conventional war using nuclear weapons would leave both countries in ruin. They therefore used whatever means possible to gain an advantage short of using nuclear weapons. Korea and Vietnam are both well-known hot spots of this war but there were many lesser known confrontations where Americans gave all with little recognition or fanfare. Their complete sacrifice and the sacrifices of many whose lives were impacted by their service during this conflict insured this great victory.
With the end of this decades long conflict there was much talk of the Government in Washington recognizing the enormity of our victory by striking a Cold War Victory Medal and presenting it with great thanks and fanfare. Why this did not happen is up for debate. Some think it was not done so as to not ‘rattle the feathers’ of a newly free Russia as it tried to establish a democratic government. Congress has expressed its support for issuing a medal several times but nothing happened. The Department of Defense, even with Veterans saying they would pay for their medals, said that issuing the medal was ‘cost prohibitive’. The last effort to award the medal was in the 115th Congress with HR 1419. In April of 2017 it was referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel where it still resides. A medal has been privately created but nothing has been done officially.
What those who participated did receive was a piece of cardboard with the following printed on it. Certificate of Recognition, In recognition of your service during the period of the Cold War (2 September 1945 – 26 December 1991), in promoting peace and stability for the Nation, the people of this Nation are forever grateful! It was signed by the Secretary of Defense and that was it! Some Veterans felt insulted by the Governments seeming dismissal of the sacrifices made to insure such an enormous victory.
It is time to strike the medal! It has been 28 years since this great victory and the medal’s presentation is long overdue. Sadly Russia has slipped back to a dictatorship every bit as politically repressive as the old Soviet Union. It’s Government under Vladimir Putin is currently engaged in conducting cyber warfare against us among other things. Putin looks to recreate the Soviet Union but his new version is just as onerous as the old with repression, assassination of political opponents, invasion of other countries, along with concerted efforts to sow discord and unrest among his perceived enemies.
Presenting the Cold War Victory Medal at this time would not only right a wrong to those who gave us this victory but would also be a way to push back against Putin’s aggression by sticking a finger in his eye and reminding him who won the first time around!
Strike the Medal!