The Belgian military personnel who were deployed to Zaventem Airport in Brussels during the on March 22 2016 terror attacks will not be receiving medals of honor and self sacrifice. The request the soldiers had put in themselves has been rejected by the Department of Defense.
42 soldiers who were involved in anti-terrorist interventions requested a military honor. 36 were at the airport and subway station in March 2016. Another 3 took down terrorist Oussama Zariouh after his failed bombing attempt at Brussels Central Station on June 20 2017. 3 more were involved in Brussels on August 25 2017 when a terrorist was shot by the military after attacking a group of soldiers with a machete.
The spokesman for Defense says that “While the army did an outstanding job that day, all military personnel would have done the same.” The Department of Defense wants to avoid instigating a “cult of heroism” by specifically recognizing the heroic actions of some.
One would think that a cult of heroism is quintessential to a well-toned military. Soldiers do not risk their lives for the money – they are not getting rich. They are doing it because they care about keeping countries safe, and keeping people safe. Rewarding soldiers for bravery is the least military leadership can do to acknowledge proven valor. But it seems egalitarianism is even seeping through into the army. Nobody is allowed to excel, nobody is better than anybody else. The reality is, of course, that not everybody responds the same in the heat of battle. Acknowledging those who excel in the face of danger is the least they deserve – but the Belgian military does not seem to be willing to do that.