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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fallen classmate 

Yesterday was July 4th, a day on which Americans paused to celebrate the liberty we hold so dear. When it was proclaimed in 1776, winning our freedom was far from certain, as it would take five more years of fighting to secure. American freedom exists because of men and women who have made great personal sacrifices, endured extreme hardship, and faced our enemies on the field of battle.

Even as a Navy man, I didn't give those things much thought this weekend. The order of the day was fun: A concert on Friday, Fenway on Saturday, party on Sunday... Until I got home last night and read my email.

"Fallen classmate" was the subject of an email from my Naval Academy class president. My heart sank, because this was the news I have been hoping not to hear since last week when a special forces helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. "Please, nobody I know..." was my silent prayer when I heard about the crash. It's a thought I have every time there's an incident involving Navy or Marine Corps personnel. As if it's one hundredth as bad for me to lose a classmate as it is for someone to lose a child, a spouse, or a parent. It's not, of course, and I hope I never learn firsthand.

In any case, the email identified my fallen classmate as LT Mike McGreevy. My class has lost one of its best, and truthfully, so has the country.

All you need to do is read this article from Mike's hometown paper to see that he excelled in everything he did. You'll also see that he dedicated his life to the service of not just his country, but other people in general. He devoted a considerable amount of time to community service while in Annapolis, which I didn't see in the article.

But as his classmate, what impressed me about Mike was the way he carried himself. He was optimism and confidence personified, but without a trace of cockiness. He was quick to give credit to others. He had a great sense of humor and liked to have a good time, but when it came time to be serious, nobody was more so.

Mike McGreevy, I'm sure, did all in his power to save the other SEALS and the crew of the helicopter, whether that was possible or not. That's just what men like him do, and he died surrounded by men like himself. I only knew Mike (and only a little, at that) but I have no doubt that each man who died with him was cut from the same cloth, and thought only of others at the end.

May God bless and comfort the families of the fallen, including Mike's wife and 16 month old daughter, who will sadly never know her father.

The latin phrase at the top of this page is "Robur per sacrificium." It is our class motto, and it means "Strength through sacrifice." Mike made the ultimate sacrifice so that America might remain free and strong. May our strength continue, and may it come at the absolute minimum of sacrifice. We don't have too many Mike McGreevys to spare.
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