Posthumous Award of Valor
Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah, New York Army National Guard
By Joseph R. Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.
Through the writings of Tacitus (56 A.D. – 120 A.D.), those who ever stepped foot on the battlefield have lived and died by the phrase “In Valor There Is Hope.” When studying the term “Valor,” one needs to look no deeper than the great Tacitus, a Roman philosopher and historian, who lived through part of the Roman Empire, witnessing some of the most courageous soldiers known to mankind. What uniquely separated Tacitus from other historians and philosophers was his commitment to public service, serving as a senator, and a student of the people who cherished the word “Hope.”
We often hear of soldiers earning “Valor Awards” through their bravery and courage during the most hazardous and hostile conditions, putting others before self with no regard for their own personal safety. When coupling the word “Valor” with “Hope,” we learn that those in need are given a ray of hope through the actions of those willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may live.
On Dec. 28, 2017, Bronx, New York witnessed one of its deadliest fires in more than 25 years, which claimed the lives of twelve people. One of those lives lost was Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah, a 26-year-old Guardsman who had recently returned home from military training in Virginia. Several eyewitness accounts reported that Emmanuel initially made it out of the fire, but his bravery and courage elicited a response from him that only a few have: the response of running into danger when everyone else is running away from it. Mensah was observed running into the inferno three different times and rescuing four people, but as the strength of the fire increased he was determined to rescue more, giving those still trapped the hope that an act of valor would save them. Unfortunately, Mensah would make a fourth attempt to rescue others and that was the last time anyone saw him on the dreadful night.
Mensah was a first-generation immigrant from Ghana and became a naturalized United States Citizen on Sept. 21, 2017. His spirit embodied the American dream, and his love for his country and fellow Americans was exemplified on Dec. 28, 2017.
To no surprise, Mensah was soon to begin training as Military Police Officer with the 107th Military Police Company based out of Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, which makes it most deserving to send him off under the phrase “In Valor There Is Hope,” as these words lay inscribed on the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
On Dec. 7, 2018, the Blue Magazine posthumously awarded Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah with the Award of Valor, which was honorable accepted by his loving aunt, Cathryn Cudjoe, during the 8th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner. On hand to present Ms. Cudjoe with her nephew’s award was New Jersey Attorney General Gubir Grewal, New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik (Ret.), and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (Ret.)