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Courage and tenderness

Army Capt. William Swenson received the Medal of Honor this week from President Obama for heroic actions performed in Afghanistan in 2009. Swenson, who now lives in Seattle, risked his life to save other troops, as well as Afghan allies, and he stayed in the fight to retrieve the bodies of four Americans killed in the battle.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of Swenson’s actions – caught on film by a medevac crewman – was when he kissed his wounded comrade on the head. The moment was their last together. The serviceman died a month later.

It takes courage for someone – a trained soldier as well as others - to stay in the middle of violence and perhaps even greater courage to hold the violence at bay, while pausing for a moment of profound and final compassion. 

(S-R photo: President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William D. Swenson, of Seattle, at the White House on Tuesday.)

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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