U.S. Marine 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion and U.S. Navy LT (SEAL) Brendan Looney are buried side by side in section 60 of Arlington Military Cemetery. The two bonded when they met at Annapolis Military Academy in 2001, and went on to become best friends for life. Travis was eventually dispatched to Iraq where he died heroically in April, 2007, at Fallujah. Three years, Brendan gave up his life for his country in battle in the Zabul province of Afghanistan, September, 2010.
The story of their service as warriors and their life as buddies is recounted in a new book, Brothers Forever. They were clearly exceptional young men in their own right. But this account written in part by Travis’ father teaches us larger lessons about patriotism, warfare, friendship, and about manhood.
In Ephesians 5:25, Paul directs godly men, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Just a few verses earlier, wives are instructed to respect their husbands; to honor them by submitting to their leadership- not to die for them. Our Creator God has always known what fads and philosophies sometimes disguise or deny: that men and women are different creatures.
This is the reason that even today in our liberated age, we still honor the life saving principle “Women and children first.” It’s why the now viral selfie from behind the lines of the California wildfire this week showed exhausted male firefighters. It’s why young men trapped in theater shootings or tornadoes so frequently exchange their own lives to shield the young women they love. This is how guys love.
Of course we welcome female Marines, sailors, and soldiers today; and female police officers, and there are probably even a few female smoke jumpers! But these ladies are still notable exceptions to an ancient rule: when you need someone to snatch you from terrorists run amok or a wildfire out of control, you assume they’ll send a guy. Women sacrifice in different ways- a thousand different ways. They deny themselves and put it all on the line for families, friends and neighbors in gestures and acts of love that are both miraculous and mystifying to adoring males. Men want to shield, rescue and treasure women because the feminine dimension of life is precious and amazing indeed. Men can defend the next generation, even help conceive it; but only women can carry and birth it. Defending women is defending life.
Grateful wives tend to respect their men; to let them know they are more than sufficient. Appreciative husbands are ready to die for their women; to reassure them they are a gift from God. That’s what Paul was acknowledging with his now controversial remarks about submissive wives and sacrificial husbands. That’s how the Creator designed us.
This Memorial Day, give thanks for all our missing heroes (and heroines) in uniform who took the bullets and the IED’s for us. And lift up the Cross!