Patterico's Pontifications

12/14/2006

Maj. McClung Remembered

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,War — Patterico @ 9:10 pm



Hot Air has the military’s video tribute to Maj. McClung. And L.A. Times columnist Dana Parsons, a war opponent, explains why he doesn’t see her death as a tragedy, despite his opposition to the war:

One of the irreducible elements in McClung’s life was her belief in the cause, her dedication to the mission. That’s military talk that a lot of people don’t understand, but it’s a point of view that should be draped in honor. I’m not talking about medals or other trappings, but in the honor of being true to one’s self.

In that sense, McClung’s death can’t possibly be seen as tragic. War room decisions made by people who don’t do the fighting can have elements of tragic miscalculation and warrant recriminations, but at the level of the individual soldier, how dare we minimize his or her belief in risking their lives to help others?

I won’t do it.

A conversation Parsons had with Maj McClung’s parents changed his perspective.

A deep-seated belief that she was helping strangers. A willingness to put herself on the line, so that her actions would reflect those beliefs.

That’s not my definition of tragedy.

Nicely put. Thanks to reader R.R. for the link.

4 Responses to “Maj. McClung Remembered”

  1. My quibble is probably over semantics.

    I appreciate Mr. Parsons not labeling Major McClung’s death as a “waste” or something of the sort. He seems, very appropriately, to recognize that the fact that she was a volunteer, someone enthusiastic about the mission, and someone who was willingly risking her life every day for that mission and her comrades, makes a huge difference in evaluating and describing the circumstances of her death. If he’s against the war in general, and specifically if he works for the LA Times, I join you in commending him for that.

    I view the word “tragic” as encompassing something more than a life “wasted,” however. Although her sacrifice was noble, and one for which her country ought to be duly appreciative, her death — and the deaths of everyone in this conflict, as opposed, say, to people who die in bed of old age after full lives well lived — still qualify for the word “tragic.” Just about every injury or death that’s due to war (save perhaps to one like Adolph Hitler) is tragic and unfortunate, even if they may not have been avoidable, and even if they were in a righteous cause and for a greater good. There’s certainly no joy in her death regardless of her commitment and attitude, or the respect with which we mourn her passing.

    I don’t expect that you or Mr. Parsons would disagree with me on the substance here, but the wording struck me as peculiar, just to the limited extent, if any, that denying that her death was “tragic” might somehow imply that we ought to simply take it in stride. Maybe nobody but me would draw that inference, and I’m sure it wasn’t intended.

    Beldar (87242f)

  2. I get your point, Beldar, and I agree it’s probably a question of semantics. While Major McClung’s death was tragic, her sacrifice was not. I think that frame of reference colors the extent to which this event is viewed as tragic.

    DRJ (6dbcaa)

  3. I was disappointed by Dana Parsons’ tribute to Megan McClung, and got into a little dust-up with Parsons over it.

    See: http://frankwarner.typepad.com/free_frank_warner/2006/12/i_was_unfair_to.html

    We’re friends now. But why can’t we have a eulogy for McClung from pro-victory point of view?

    Frank Warner (c936a0)

  4. Unless you knew her, you didn’t know Megan. You don’t know how she died doing the most noble of all things…LIVING in the way that she could most amazingly and directly change the world for the better. I’m so sorry and yet so proud that she also died that way.

    Megan, I love you.

    Ricki (c61964)


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