WASHINGTON, February 8, 2014 – If you have had the opportunity to see Lone Survivor, you have experienced the power of a heroic account of Homeric proportion. You cannot help but stare in awe at the actions of modern day warriors whose stature on the field of battle met or exceeded the heroism of King Leonidas and his 300.
It is profoundly inspiring to know that there are still giants among us who stand with ease next to Achilles. The movie necessarily glosses over the process of becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL and jumbles the actual timeline a bit, but fully accomplishes the goal of factually presenting the actions of three bearers of the Navy Cross and one of the Medal of Honor. The Lone Survivor is the true account of how four Navy SEALS mauled an army of Taliban, despite suffering mortal wounds and sustained enemy fire.
As the title implies, only one survived. Three fell in combat only after inflicting casualties of approximately 25 to 1. The only criticism of the movie that can be made is that the colossal acts of heroism depicted in the move pale in comparison to the actual, detailed account presented in the book.
Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell, USN, SEAL relates an epic in his book “Lone Survivor.” He details the brutal indoc and BUD/S selection process which forges highly motivated men into our nation’s apex special operations force. He provides humanizing detail regarding himself and his teammates, who participated in the ill-fated Operation Red Wings.
He and the other three members of his team, Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Petty Officer Second Class Danny P. Dietz, and Petty Officer Second Class Matthew G. Axelson, were inserted behind Taliban lines in the Hindu-Kush mountains of Afghanistan in 2005. Their highly dangerous mission was to provide overwatch for the impeding Operation Red Wings, an effort to capture or eliminate a high value Taliban target. Luttrell’s team was compromised and, as a result, a pitched battle ensued involving approximately 200 Taliban fighters.
Luttrell does not veil his contempt for our modern media establishment. In fact, in both the move and the book, CNN is described as sympathetic to the Taliban cause. Not surprisingly, the Islamic network, Al-Jazeera, is considered to be sympathetic to terrorist interests. Luttrell is explicit in his assertion that the American media establishment propagated sympathetic narratives that impeded operational decision making.
Though the liberal media seems bent on providing aid and comfort to the enemy, it must be our task to understand our warrior’s sacrifice, to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and most importantly, live inspired by their example.
There are two themes in Luttrell’s book and in the movie that are profoundly inspirational. One is the idea of “striving,” and the other is the maxim, “you’re never out of the fight.”
There can be no better way to honor the sacrifice and bravery of these Navy SEALS than to incorporate into our lives the principals that guided theirs. No matter what your vocation, you can strive for excellence in everything you do, as they strove for and achieved excellence in their own lives.
Physically, spiritually, and intellectually, we ought to be inspired to achieve excellence. Another great warrior, Chief Tecumseh, once said, “Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.”
Second, we should be engaged in the struggle of our time, regardless of our position in life. As Luttrell and his teammates fought, so should we fight and strive, remembering that “you’re never out of the fight.” This phrase embodies the idea of endurance, of perseverance. As constitutional conservatives, we should relentlessly engage the opposition wherever we find them. If you can write, then write. If you can speak, then speak out against the encroaching darkness. Whatever it is you do, soldier bravely on despite insurmountable odds, despite disappointment, or impending defeat. You cannot live well, if you are not prepared to end well.
Ultimately, the book and the movie are about legacy. We can only carry forward their heroic legacy by aspiring to the heroic in our own lives. At the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan, the mortally wounded Captain Miller mutters to Private Ryan, “James, earn this…” We all have a duty to earn what is bequeathed to us through the deaths and sufferings of our great warriors.
The Lone Survivor is a clarion call to the banner of liberty; may we never falter when we are called to stand in the breach.