|Megan looking a lot as she did when we were 13.|
Then I met Megan McClung. She talked a mile a minute, with incredible enthusiasm about just about everything, but especially about gymnastics. My last experience of gymnastics had been at the YMCA when I was five, but her enthusiasm and cheerfulness was irresistible. And she was friendly, and I understood her. She became my first friend.
She was my first friend in California, and I will always, always be so grateful for that. But gratitude only goes so far in teenage friendship, and we drifted apart by the beginning of ninth grade because I am, most emphatically, not an athlete and Megan, most emphatically, was.
On December 6, 2006, Major Megan McClung of the U.S. Marine Corps, was killed in combat in Iraq. Today, her brother shared the U.S. Marine Corps prayer:
Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family.
Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance.
Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my Country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.
If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.
Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.
Thank you all that serve, have served and will serve. It is in your service I always will be indebted.
The world is a poorer place without Megan McClung in it. I hadn't spoken to her in a lot of years, but it makes me sad to know she's gone. I am grateful for her commitment, and for her sacrifice, but most of all I am grateful for the generosity that made her a person who could give an awkward newbie the confidence to find like-minded friends.
How many stories are there like this?
Megan's family has founded a memorial run in her honor. Details can be found at: http://www.meganmcclungmemorialrun.com/