After Seth Moulton beat out sitting Representative John Tierney in the primary for the Democratic spot on Massachusetts’ ballot for the 6th District House Seat last month, reporters started to dig into to the past of this relatively unknown candidate and ended up with a refreshing surprise.
Moulton, who achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant during the Iraq War, was awarded the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor for his service in 2003 and 2004. According to the official citations for the medals, which were obtained by the Boston Globe, Moulton “fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire
” while leading his platoon in battle for control of Nasiriyah and Najaf near Baghdad.
The biggest shock was that Moulton has never mentioned this commendations or used them to gain political traction. Historically, politicians have been quick to flaunt their military service. Reagan often mentioned his military service during his campaigns despite the fact that his poor eyesight disqualified him from active service and kept him in US borders during World War II.
George W. Bush would bring up his time in the National Guard to demonstrate that he selflessly served his country even though his service was less than honorary and filled with controversy. Bush loss his flight status, had a very poor attendance record, and it was questionable whether or not he even fulfilled the requirements of his military service contract at all.
Then there have been numerous political candidates who have embellished or flat out lied about their military service. The Boston Globe mentioned Republican candidate for Governor John R. Lakian whose entire political career came crashing down around him when it was discovered the he had numerous “exaggerations” on his resume, including a battlefield promotion in Vietnam.
Obviously, Moulton keeping his military honors a secret from the public is considered unusual. Why would a candidate for a U.S. Congressional seat hide something that would potentially launch his political career? The Boston Globe
questioned Moulton on his reasoning. “There is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories
,’’ Mouton said. He also did not want to call attention to his own recognitions out of respect to “many others who did heroic things and received no awards at all.
During that interview, Moulton also requested that The Boston Globe
not call him a hero. “Look
,’’ he said, “we served our country, and we served the guys next to us. And it’s not something to brag about.
” To top it all off, Moulton not only hid his commendations from the public, but also from his close friends and family. This level of humility is unheard of in modern day politics.
So, on one hand, we have Reagan, Bush, and Lakian, three politicians with lackluster, disgraceful, even false military resumes who use the ideas of military service to forge their way ahead in the political world. And then we have Seth Moulton. A decorated, respected military veteran who, out of respect for fellow veterans, intentionally kept his military accomplishments a secret, and instead chose to run a campaign based on issues. It is not only refreshing to see these kind of political strategies in action, but also to see them be successful.