Sen. Joe Manchin's decision that an issue on which he took a strong stance merited a speech on the Senate floor will be applauded by many of his Mountain State constituents. So will the Defense Department's decision to listen to Manchin, D-W.Va., and other critics of its plan for a new medal honoring some in the military.
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal was intended to honor service men and women who work with technology to fight our enemies. Recipients might include, for example, operators of remotely controlled drone aircraft.
Recognition for techno-warriors who accomplish great things certainly is desirable. But the Pentagon's decision to rank the new medal ahead of others such as the Bronze Star that recognize valor on the battlefield was dead wrong.
As Manchin noted in his speech Monday, "Awards earned for heroism, patriotism and a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy every day should not be ranked below a medal earned in relative safety."
Previously, Manchin and 21 other senators, including Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., had signed a letter asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to reconsider the precedence planned for the new medal. On Tuesday, Hagel agreed to do so.
He should adopt the senators' suggestion that the medal be established - at a proper level of recognition.