Here’s selections from a beautiful eulogy in the Washington Post authored by Ashley Halsey III and appropriately titled, “A Heroic Death, Without the Headlines.” The hero is Captain Matthew Freeman, USMC, who was killed in action—leading from the front—in Afghanistan:
The morning he came back to the Naval Academy was a Wednesday, but it will stick in your memory as the day you heard that Ted Kennedy had died and the week when you learned that someone might have killed Michael Jackson. The politician and the entertainer of their generations, they were lionized by many and scorned by some. One pleaded guilty, the other was found innocent. But they each died with an indelible asterisk, a footnote to their legacies that time will not erase.
Matt Freeman died clean. . . .
Theresa rose from her pew in the chapel to accept Matt’s Bronze Star, the fifth in the hierarchy of combat medals awarded Marines. He died on a mission for which he volunteered, in a province far from home, leading men into battle. Pinned down and receiving a “heavy volume” of enemy fire, the medal citation says, he rose up and led his men into a mud-brick house, cleared it of the enemy, “was the first to reach the rooftop” where he “spotted an enemy rocket-propelled grenade gunman and immediately killed him . . . and began to engage while under fire.”
His best friend told the mourners, “He would want you to know that he went down swinging.”
In the week when they laid a young Marine captain to rest, the news was dominated by the death of a politician and the echo from an entertainer’s death. The flag-draped coffin on the front page was not his, but if you look carefully in the paper this week you will see a small picture of Matt Freeman among the faces of those who have fallen recently in battle. He did not live long enough to become the icon of Kennedy or Jackson, but he died the greater hero.
Requiem in Pacem, Captain Freeman. And, Semper Fidelis.