A true story, a true hero

Considering my post yesterday with reference to Medal of Honor recipients, it seemed very timely today when a friend (who, as far as I know, doesn’t read my blog) sent me an email about the death of Ed Freeman. You may have received it – it’s apparently spreading all over cyberspace. It starts with these lines:

Michael Jackson dies and it’s 24/7 news coverage. A real American hero dies and not a mention of it in the news. The media has no honor and God is watching.

It goes on to tell about Ed Freeman’s heroism in saving about thirty wounded men, in spite of machine gunfire so intense that the Medi-Vac helicopters had been ordered not to attempt the rescue. He wasn’t disobeying that order; he wasn’t Medi-Vac, he just chose to get a Huey helicopter and go in there anyway – some fourteen times as he could only take two or three men out at a time.

Because of yesterday’s post, I decided to learn more about Ed Freeman. The first hit I got was from snopes.com. Oh no, does that mean the story is just an urban legend? (I get a lot of those emailed from well-meaning friends, and I have learned to check them out, usually at snopes.com.) This one, it turns out, is a mixture of truth and falsehood. Mostly the story is Ed Freeman’s heroism is true. The false part is that the email changes the date of Ed Freeman’s death to the date Michael Jackson died.

Ed Freeman died August 20, 2008. In March 2009, a post office facility in his hometown was named for him. Soon an email began circulating, similar to the one I received today, but instead of a reference to Michael Jackson, it compared the lack of news coverage for Ed Freeman with some other celebrity-of-the-day who was getting all the attention. After Michael Jackson’s death, the email was modified to its current form.

On the one hand, I understand the desire to tell more people about Ed Freeman, and the concern that Michael Jackson’s death should get as much attention as it did. But changing the facts to try to make a point is never the way to get the truth out. The truth is a good enough story – there’s no need to try to improve on it.

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