Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember every man and woman who has served valiantly in the United States military and lost their lives, in doing so, for our freedom. Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor is just one of the many brave souls who have died for this country. Please take a moment today to honor this courageous young man and all of our fallen heroes.
According to his close friends, Mikey was a real guy. ''He was just a fun-loving guy. Always got something funny to say, always got a little mischievous look on his face,'' said a buddy who went through the 29 weeks, including Hell Week, of sheer torture with Mikey known as SEAL training. You probably don't know Mikey. I hope to change that.
By all reports, Mikey was a humble and modest man. A native of Garden Grove, Calif., who was the type of person the words faith, values and family were made for. Both his father and brother are former Marines who believe in service to their country. Sacrifice was more than a word in the home where Mikey grew up. It was a way of life.
Mikey could have chosen one of many career paths being the smart, resourceful young man he was. Yet he chose to serve his country, and serve he did. With honor, integrity and a big dose of heroism mixed in. He was awarded the Silver Star in May 2006 when he and another team member pulled a fellow SEAL to safety while bullets ricocheted off the ground in Ramadi, Iraq.
Then on Sept. 29, 2006, Mikey and four of his fellow soldiers were manning a rooftop structure being used as a sniper hideout. Mikey was near the doorway when a grenade thrown by an Iraqi insurgent hit him in the chest and then bounced to the floor without exploding. In a motion as natural as breathing, Mikey jumped on the grenade and shielded his comrades from the blast. ''He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was downward toward it,'' said a lieutenant who was injured in the blast. ''He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives and we owe him.'' Mikey gave his life for those around him in an act of unbelievable self sacrifice.
Mikey was Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, the second Navy SEAL to perish in Iraq. He was based out of Coronado Island, Calif., a place near and dear to my heart. I have always admired Coronado Island and its beauty and serenity. I will never look at it again without remembering Mikey and what he did not only for his comrades but for all of us. He showed love for his friends, family and country in the most profound way he could – sacrifice!
I bet before you read this, you didn't know Mikey's name. However if I mentioned the name Lynndie England or Janet Karpinsky you would immediately know the name and how it became a household word. For six straight months we heard those names over and over and over again. We read them daily on the front page of the New York Times. Chris Matthews mentioned them more than he does his hero Tip O'Neil. That's right. They were the infamous soldiers who became the poster children for the press on the Abu Ghraib scandal. They were the faces the media wanted you to equate with the face of the U.S. soldier fighting a nasty and thankless war. Well it didn't work with me, and I hope it didn't work with you.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor is the face of the men and women serving this country in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the strength and the backbone of what makes us great. Yes, there are bad apples in every group. But just like the misbehaved children, the bad apples get all the attention when it is the Mikeys that deserve the recognition for what they have done and continue to do daily to keep us safe. It is only the America-hating, Bush-bashing, military loathers out there that don't talk about the Michael A. Monsoors of the world, and I hope you ask yourself, why?
Each Friday when I sit down to write this column, I agonize over what to say. Many times in tears, many times in anger; I try to share with my readers my thoughts. My heart breaks for the family of Michael A. Monsoor. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child. I have to believe the pain is unbearable. Hopefully the anguish of the Monsoor's loss is soothed somewhat by the greatness of their son. True heroes are hard to find in the ''ME-ME-ME'' world we live in. Mikey was and is a true hero. Cut from a sheet of very rare human cloth, he will be deeply missed, and I hope that his sacrifice is recognized and appreciated every day.
It is sad that the honor and emotion I experienced in telling Mikey's story is not shared by the writers and staff at the Times. They could have told this story. I can't imagine the visible glee they demonstrated over their outing of the Abu Ghraib story or the NSA program can compare to the honor I feel in telling Mikey's story. Chris Matthews and the left-wing media hacks are missing so much not telling us of the greatness among us.
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American GI. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
Thank you Michael A. Monsoor. You make me proud to be an American.
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