Lessons from a Soldier I Never Met
'Although he made the ultimate sacrifice, this young man's service and spirit live on — I carry that with me every day'
I never had the privilege of meeting Petty Officer Michael Monsoor. I wish I had, as he has provided endless inspiration to me, my sons, and many dear friends. He has reminded me on countless occasions of courage, honor, duty and sacrifice.
The Washington Post used to print a list of those lost in action in Iraq and Afghanistan called Faces of the Fallen. I always made a point to read every name and action and say a prayer for these people — and in my own way, thank them for their service to their country and to others by acknowledging their sacrifice and learning a little more about their lives. On occasion I would cut out a particularly moving story and share it with friends, or tuck it into my wallet to reflect on later.
I would use the time on a plane or a train to pull out Faces of the Fallen and read about these American heroes. I am sure I startled a few seatmates, as I would get choked up while learning about those who gave so very much. But I always made a point of reading every name and every story.
I am the son of a veteran and a proud patriot who holds the utmost respect for those who serve, so I felt it was my duty to acknowledge these Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. What I didn’t expect was how much I would learn from them — little things but important things, actions that I would use to help teach my own sons about character and honor on a regular basis.
Michael Monsoor, of Garden Grove, California, was a Navy SEAL who gave his life to save three others on Sept. 29, 2006. Michael’s story has stayed with me now for 11 years.
His smiling face and the brief description of his heroic actions are folded in my wallet. This clip comes out at times of reflection and every Christmas Eve as I sit in church and thank God for all my blessings and those who have made the sacrifices to allow us to live in freedom as we do.
My sons know the story. They often roll their eyes with, “Here comes the Navy SEAL bit again from Dad,” but in their hearts it matters and it is a lesson they will hold onto for the rest of their lives.
Michael Monsoor was on a rooftop in Ramadi, Iraq, and was assigned to protect three SEAL snipers. When an insurgent’s grenade was lobbed onto the roof, Michael didn’t hesitate. He yelled, “Grenade!” and threw himself onto it — dying 30 minutes later from his wounds but saving the lives of the three SEALs he was assigned to protect. He was 25 years old.
In researching more about Petty Officer Monsoor I read about his funeral in San Diego, the amazing turnout by his fellow SEALS, his family and his friends. What these people may never know is how his actions and everything that he embodied has lived on and continues to touch others and reinforce what makes this country great.
Michael Monsoor made the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow SEALs, for our country, and for our freedom, and for his actions he was posthumously award the Medal of Honor. He embodied sacrifice, honor, duty and courage, and I can never thank him for his sacrifice. But he will continue to provide a lesson about what is right — and I know two young men, and one not-so-young man, who have been enriched by a soldier they never met, but will never forget.
(photo credit, homepage image: Monsoor Family)