Tuesday, April 05, 2005



A definition of fidelity from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/)

1 a : the quality or state of being faithful b : accuracy in details : EXACTNESS2 : the degree to which an electronic device (as a record player, radio, or television) accurately reproduces its effect (as sound or picture)synonyms FIDELITY, ALLEGIANCE, FEALTY, LOYALTY, DEVOTION, PIETY mean faithfulness to something to which one is bound by pledge or duty. FIDELITY implies strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty . ALLEGIANCE suggests an adherence like that of citizens to their country . FEALTY implies a fidelity acknowledged by the individual and as compelling as a sworn vow . LOYALTY implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray . DEVOTION stresses zeal and service amounting to self-dedication . PIETY stresses fidelity to obligations regarded as natural and fundamental.
Today the son of a fallen U.S. soldier received the Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to his father, SFC Paul Ray Smith. The Washington Post describes SFC Smith’s bravery that earned him the Medal of Honor:

Ambushed, outnumbered and under fire, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith took matters into his own hands. Jumping on top of an armored vehicle in place of its injured crew, he aimed a .50-caliber machine gun at the advancing Iraqi Republican Guard and opened fire.

By the time he had gone through three ammunition belts, the enemy attack had been repulsed and his unit saved. According to the Army's official account, Smith single-handedly killed 20 to 50 enemy soldiers and saved 100 of his own. The only American to die in the skirmish that night outside Baghdad was Smith, struck down by a bullet to the head.
The Medal of Honor is awarded only for the most extraordinary action on the battlefield, or "conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty." This is the pinnacle of devotion, of fidelity, a man who willingly gives his life for his friends.

It is ironic that as President Bush presented this medal to SFC Smith’s family today, our unit had to endure a very difficult practical demonstration of the consequences when soldiers in their humanness are unable to live up to that measure of devotion. When soldiers maintain true fidelity, they can demonstrate heroism of epic proportion. When they can't, the attendant disgrace and humiliation can be much harsher than any administrative or non-judicial punishment imposed.

Fidelity is another one of those words that is virtually absent from civic life, although somewhat more visible in the traditions of the military (Semper Fi, the best example).

Fidelity describes an unwavering, straight line commitment to a course of action. It speaks of obligation and duty. It forms the foundation of loyalty, it is the tie of devotion that cannot be broken. Fidelity in old musical recording media was the faithfulness that the recorded sound was to the actual sound as recorded.

Comparing the two definitions of fidelity, one sees the vital basis of fidelity, being true to something, to adhere, pledge or bond, but then to hold fast to that commitment. To remain true and constant. The challenge to maintain this level of dedication within these kinds of allegiances can be great. When we achieve fidelity in the face of the greatest dangers without regard to life or limb, we may earn the gratitude of our country with medals and awards. When we fall short, when we fail, when we cannot live up to our better natures, it can bring shame and disappointment at depths just as great.

May God Bless SFC Smith’s wife and children, may He preserve this hero’s memory, may He ever strengthen us and give us the courage and determination to find that fidelity in ourselves. When we fall short, may we seek repentance, gain forgiveness, and find the courage to seek fidelity again. And turn towards our God, who can make all things new again.

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