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USMC Captain Matthew Manoukian RIP

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Captain Matt Manoukian

USMC Captain Matthew Manoukian sacrificed his life for our country and for freedom on August 10, 2012 in Afghanistan. The online tribute to Captain Manoukian is here.

My friend Leonard, on hearing the too brief memorial to Captain Manoukian on today’s show, sent this email:

Passings such as Captain Manoukian’s reinforce the idea that there are true heroes in our land, men (and women) who selflessly contribute to our unique idea of liberty and justice for all.

There’s another very special [aspect to his life]. You mentioned that Manoukian’s grandfather spent some 15 years in Syria. In all probability his grandfather was the child of one of the hundreds of thousands of Armenians driven from Turkey to Syria during the “Armenian Holocaust” at the start of World War I. Many of the survivors of this came to California’s central valley in the ’20s and ’30s (see the books of William Saroyan).

For a grandson of a survivor of this event to return to the middle east, learn Arabic, and do all that he did to bring change, democracy and the rule of law to a people similar to those who so ruthlessly affected his ancestors says much about the man — and much about our land.

Think of it — from penniless Armenian refugee to California Appellate Justice and Superior Court Judge [Captain Manoukian’s parents] to American Hero in three generations.

Leonard is so right. Heroes like Captain Manoukian are each extraordinary, and they have stories that inspire and humble if only they are heard.

This is the third combat death noted in two weeks on the program –the others being Air Force Major David Gray and Army Major Tom Kennedy. Tomorrow’s program will salute Navy SEAL Davey Warsen, who also died in Afghanistan last week.

I did not know any of these men, but received emails from friends who did. In each case –the men came from very different backgrounds and each was in a different branch of the service– their extraordinary character and courage vibrated through the tributes of those who knew them.

It is impossible to salute each man and woman who have lost their lives or been terribly wounded in the 11 years of war, but four men from such different backgrounds and the four branches of the service dying in such a short span represent the entirety of the military’s enormous commitment and the infinite burden of grief carried by their survivors.

In the swirl of a political season with its breathless stories of polls and gaffes and selfishness, all parts of the media including me do not do remotely enough to mark these sacrifices and sufferings, this real courage and honor.

Captain Manoukian’s family made this video from his memorial service available. It is not very long but it would be a very good thing if one or all of the networks would play it as a reminder not only of him and his great soul, but of all the men and women who have given their all and those hundreds of thousands still –at the moment you read this– in harm’s way


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