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War and Remembrance

A father retraces the steps of his son, a gallant Marine who lost his life in the liberation of Iraq.

Jun 21, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 38 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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If you have a dog and you close him in a dark room for two years. He don’t see anyone, don’t see the light, just give him the [food] behind the door. Just give him food and close the door. After two years, open the door, and put him between the kids. What’s he doing? He eat them. The freedom is like that. For 34 years the Iraqi missing the freedom. They were in the dark. .  .  . We need education, we need time.

He sees it as his duty to give his three children the safety and space to learn about freedom, so that the future will look different from Iraq at the turn of the 21st century.

“I hope you can go around and wander freely without any concerns someday,” he told Tom through an interpreter.

His tone suggests Tom will come back to visit again someday, and they will meet for tea without military escorts or body armor. It is easy to look outside the palace, at the sandbags and concrete barriers and dusty armored vehicles, and doubt his vision.

But there is something familiar to Tom in the determination, sense of duty, and optimism of Captain Omar, The Politician, and the lieutenant. They are the Travis Manions of their country, the young leaders who will have to understand freedom and sacrifice at every turn to protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Politician told Tom that Travis encouraged him not to give up on his country: “Stay in this army and you’ll overcome this difficulty,” The Politician said, paraphrasing Travis through an interpreter. “I view service in the army as an honorable task, serving people, which is an honorable thing,” he went on. “[Travis] knew he was facing death, but he knew that if he died, this would be an honorable thing.”

These young men, as unlikely as it seems, called an all-American, blue-eyed Phillies fan “brother,” and Travis called them the same. That bond is part of the legacy of Travis Manion and all those who have fought and died in the counterinsurgency, making improvements in Iraq possible. Tom Manion plans to keep that legacy alive.

Mary Katharine Ham is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

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