I’m often asked why Michael’s legacy of service and sacrifice stands out among so many. As his father, I like to think it has less to do with his actions on June 28, 2005 – when he exposed himself to enemy fire to send a call for help and fought to his death so that a member of his squad could escape, for which he posthumously received the first Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan – and more about how Michael represents the spirit, honor and courage of all our fallen heroes.
Michael was, first and foremost, a team player, part of a team of Navy SEALs. As much as he fought and died for his teammates, they fought and died for him. Therefore, I see Michael as that “everyman” in our armed forces, embodying service, spirit, honor, courage and willingness to sacrifice for friends, teammates and country.
This wasn’t something instilled in Michael as a SEAL but was part of his character as he was growing up. As a 13-year-old playing Little League baseball, he once hit a game-winning home run in the last inning. As he came into home plate, his teammates were there to congratulate him, telling him that he’d won the game for the team. Michael told them that they won the game together, because if others hadn’t gotten on base, he wouldn’t have made it to bat. I was amazed at his maturity – amazed that he thought more of his team than himself at such a young age.
When Americans hear Michael’s story or see the movie “Lone Survivor,” they’re hearing and seeing the story of every American hero – a story of their willingness to protect and save their teammates, even at the cost of their own lives. A dad couldn’t be any prouder of such a legacy.
– Daniel J. Murphy, combat-wounded Vietnam War veteran who served with the 25th Infantry Division in Tay Ninh province, and father of Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy