We have national holidays for honoring our active military and veterans, but every single day is a good time to honor the men and women who serve the United States of America. It's important to teach the value of our Armed Forces to the American youth, and those who fight to preserve American freedoms are excellent role models that can teach us valuable lessons in respect, responsibility and commitment.
G&A had the prestigious opportunity to visit with Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who is the first living Marine in 41 years to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
His issuance of the medal comes after a firefight in Eastern Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009, when Sgt. Meyer repeatedly evacuated members of his embedded training team and Afghan soldiers while sustaining shrapnel wounds. Sgt. Meyer's bravery was truly heroic, as were the men who served by his side and also lost their lives during the conflict.
Sgt. Meyer will also be honored on the season finale of Amazing America with Sarah Palin on the Sportsman Channel. During the filming of the show in Wasilla, Alaska, G&A joined Sgt. Meyer and Gov. Palin for a behind-the-scenes interview, exclusive to G&A.com.
Gov. Sarah Palin: Now that you're out of active duty, what are your short- and long-term goals?
Sgt. Dakota Meyer: I really just want to make a difference. My short-term goal is to try and establish a platform to work with veterans issues right now. My long-term goal is to hopefully make a difference in the world and to continue spreading the American values that I fought for.
Gov. SP: While you were serving our country, what was your favorite or most valuable experience?
Sgt. DM: I have so many valuable experiences from serving in the military, from the travel to the people that I met. I would say the most valuable experience that I got out of the military was standing next to people who came from different ways of life, with different backgrounds and all of us uniting together for one cause and one belief, and that's America. We were all willing to lay down our lives for each other and for the same thought of preserving our country and our freedom.
Gov. SP: What's some advice or encouragement you can give to young men and women who are considering enlisting?
Sgt. DM: Make sure it's your decision and make sure you're doing it because you want to and because you love your country and you want to make a sacrifice because that's what it's about. It's going to be a gut check every day. At the end of the day when you get in there the hard days come along, you've got to be able to dig down in your heart and know that you're doing it for the right reasons.
Gov. SP: What can Americans do to show our support for the Armed forces and Veterans?
Sgt. DM: Embrace these men and women coming back and understand the value of what they just did. Every thing you do, every single day you're a free person and have the ability to come and go as you please at your own will — that's because of the sacrifices of what these men and women fight for. Realize that they don't want a hand out — none of us do — but we do want the respect that was earned for the sacrifices that were made. I look at the employment aspect, and how we should hire veterans and give them a place they can be successful.
Gov. SP: You grew up in the outdoors and value the traditions of American sportsmen. What can we do to get others involved in the hunting, shooting and the outdoor lifestyle?
Sgt. DM: Start it from youth and get kids involved in the lifestyle from a young age. The outdoors teach you values for the land, and responsibility and respect for places like Alaska. If you start with the youth, it will start spreading through to others just like it did for you and I. I also think all the influential people, whether they're baseball players, football players, politicians or whoever it is need to be held accountable for what they do. They need to understand they're leaders and role models for those who are watching them and mimicking the things they do. We need to develop a culture that holds role models accountable for what they do.
Gov. SP: How can we get more people involved in firearms and to realize shooting them is a safe and healthy sport?
Sgt. DM: I think it's education. The problem now is there are too many people who go off of what they see from the negativity they see from the mainstream media. Once you start teaching people about what firearms are, you'll start seeing a positive movement.
Gov. SP: What was the first gun you ever fired and when?
Sgt. DM: I grew up shooting guns on my dad's farm. I don't really remember my first firearm, but I've had a lot of guns my whole life and they've been around ever since I grew up.
Gov. SP: Do you continue to train with firearms? If so, how?
Sgt. DM: I still continue to train. I carry a gun on me everywhere I go. I'd say 95% of the time and most of the places I go I carry a gun. It's a safety issue and it's for protection of myself and others. I carried one in Afghanistan so I should be able to carry one here.
Gov. SP: What's the most heroic thing anyone has ever done for you?
Sgt. DM: The word hero is just such a thrown-out-there word. We call athletes heroes, but the real heroes are the men and women who are still fighting for our freedom every day.
Inspiring our youth with positive role models is one of Sgt. Dakota Meyer's goals, as he goes for an ATV ride with Todd Palin and his son, Trig Palin.
Sgt. Dakota Meyer clears the ATV trail of an Alaskan moose.
Sgt. Dakota Meyer and Sarah Palin's son, Track, take in the views of Lake Lucille in Wasilla, Alaska.
"The outdoors teach you values for the land, and responsibility and respect for places like Alaska." - Sgt. Dakota Meyer
The crew of Amazing America with Sarah Palin film Sgt. Dakota Meyer driving an ATV up a rugged incline with Todd and Sarah Palin.
Sgt. Meyer and Gov. Sarah Palin stop for a quick photo while on the trail.
At the top of a mountain in Wasilla, Alaska, Sgt. Meyer answers interview questions with Sarah Palin, Former Alaskan Governor.
Sgt. Meyer and Gov. Palin share many of the same leadership values, respect for the outdoors and support of the American freedoms we enjoy.