In my book on word origins, it states that Skutnik, originally a hero of a 1982 Washington Plane Crash, was introduced by President Reagan during his State of the Union address. Since then, the work Skutnik has come to be known as "a human prop, used by a speaker to make a political point." My guess is that most Skutniks don't know they're Skutniks. I also think that Skutnik could reasonably apply to this Sgt, as well as the ten other soldiers that took part in what must be conceded as a highly choreographed, if not purposefully staged event.
This isn't the first time a President has resorted to Skutnikking, and it won't be the last time. What troubles me is how often the President uses named and nameless Skutniks in his speeches to sell his position. Without too much digging, here are some quotes he's used that I found online, mostly from whitehouse.gov:
From the Hurricane Relief Address to the Nation, 15 Sep, 2005
Steve Scott of the Biloxi Fire Department, ... told me this: "I lost my house and I lost my cars, but I still got my family ... and I still got my spirit."
When one resident of [New Orleans] who lost his home was asked by a reporter if he would relocate, he said, "Now, I will rebuild - but I will build higher."
- What I like about this quote is that it sounds to me like the guy is saying he won't build at such a low altitude, yet the President continues by saying "That is our vision for the future, in this city and beyond: We'll not just rebuild, we'll build higher and better."
From a Sep. 7, 2003 address to the nation:
"Not long ago I received a letter from a captain in the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad. He wrote about his pride in serving a just cause, and about the deep desire of Iraqis for liberty. 'I see it,' he said, 'in the eyes of a hungry people every day here. They are starved for freedom and opportunity.' And he concluded, 'I just thought you'd like a note from the 'front lines of freedom.''"
At the Naval Academy Commencement, May 27, 2005
Sitting in that crowd four years ago was Midshipman Edward Slavis. When I gave the order to liberate Iraq, he charged across the Kuwaiti Border, leading a rifle platoon through 21 days of tough fighting into the heart of Baghdad. ... Ed says, "I will have time for myself later. Now I just feel privileged to spend my life doing something much larger than myself."
At a Speech at Fort Hood on the War On Terror
One Iraqi army colonel put it this way: "These U.S. soldiers leave their wives and kids to come here and give us freedom. We have to thank them for doing that for us."
At a speech pressing for Tax Relief, May 6, 2003:
"Luke says, 'Buying equipment is something we need to do in order to grow the business, in order to stay up with competition. Any break we get obviously encourages us to hire more people and buy equipment.' In other words, tax relief will be used by the Brindleys to buy new equipment. And when they buy new equipment, it means their work force becomes more productive."