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'On Fame's Eternal Camping Ground'

8:20 AM, May 26, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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From the boss's newsletter, marking Memorial Day:

In a week we observe Memorial Day, the most moving of American holidays. In light of that I particularly recommend the just published book, Brothers Forever It's an account of the friendship of U.S. Marine 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion, killed in action in April 2007 in Fallujah, Iraq, and U.S. Navy LT (SEAL) Brendan Looney, killed in action in September 2010, in Zabul province, Afghanistan. The book, written by Travis's father, Col. Tom Manion, and the journalist Tom Sileo, is a gripping account of friendship, war, sacrifice, and valor. As retired Marine General Jim Mattis remarked, "For those who might question America's character, this account of two remarkable young men will restore confidence. So long as our country breeds committed warriors like Travis Manion and Brendan Looney, we will pass down our freedoms intact to the next generation. Their story is the stuff of legends, yet for them it was very real."

In conjunction with Brothers Forever you might also (re-)read Mary Katharine Ham's fine account, in the July 21, 2010 Weekly Standard, of her trip with Tom Manion to Iraq, where they met with Iraqi soldiers and civilians who had known Travis and retraced some of his steps on his final deployment. That deployment was a key part of the successful Anbar counterinsurgency that turned the war around and laid the groundwork for the almost complete success achieved by the end of 2008.

Roommates at the Naval Academy and best friends in life, Travis and Brendan are now buried side by side in section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, where, in the words of Theodore O'Hara's Bivouac of the Dead inscribed on the east side of Arlington's McClellan Gate,

On fame's eternal camping ground

Their silent tents are spread,

And glory guards, with solemn round 

The bivouac of the dead.

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