It’s jarring when you compare the awe-inspiring story of Dakota Meyer’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Marines from a firefight in Afghanistan with a recent Gallup poll that shows Americans are more concerned about health care, immigration and Social Security than they are about war.

It’s jarring when you compare the awe-inspiring story of Dakota Meyer’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Marines from a firefight in Afghanistan with a recent Gallup poll that shows Americans are more concerned about health care, immigration and Social Security than they are about war.


Jarring, but maybe not surprising. Despite the horrific and heroic events playing out daily in Afghanistan and Iraq, two factors conspire to dull us to the pain and drama.


One is the protracted economic calamity right here at home, one that has crushed many and frightened all. The other is a volunteer military that means millions of Americans who have no family in harm’s way can focus on their own pain or simply carry on as if it were just another beautiful day.


This editorial isn’t a call for a return to the draft; it’s to reflect on and amplify the amazing efforts and sacrifices being made while we, often blithely, move through our days.


Meyer’s story, for which he was bestowed the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, serves as a near transcendent example of what it means to have compassion for others.


The Kentucky man, now 23 and adjusting to civilian life, charged through heavy gunfire on five death-defying trips to rescue comrades ambushed by insurgents in Afghanistan in September 2009.


All told, Meyer saved 36 lives –– those of 13 Marines and Army soldiers along with 23 Afghan soldiers –– all while providing cover for the troops to fight their way out of a withering, six-hour firefight with the Taliban that killed five other U.S. soldiers.


“It might sound crazy, but it was just, you don’t really think about it, you don’t comprehend it, you don’t really comprehend what you did until looking back on it,” Meyer said.


U.S. Navy SEAL Eric Greitens was interviewed on NPR recently about his new book, “The Heart and the Fist,” which explores what it takes to become a member of the elite unit.


He talked about the grueling process of winnowing the pool of recruits in what is described as the hardest military training in the world. He said when they’ve found the toughest and smartest, they then pick the ones who would put the good and safety of their fellow SEALs above their own.


That ability to focus beyond the self is at the center of the group’s storied success. It’s also possible that finding the same ability at home could be at the center of ours. Never forget.