Monday, October 29, 2007
Megan M. McClung (4/14/72 – 12/6/06)
"It is not length of life, but depth of life." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
My swatch from The Mother's Day Project arrived today in a simple, white envelope postmarked Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Inside was an instructional letter, and a light piece of cream-colored cotton fabric with the name Megan M. McClung heatstamped in black, directly in the center. I didn't quite know how I would feel when I learned the moniker of the woman whose name I would be stitching, but my first reaction upon reading it was "ahhh...she has a good name." I instantly liked the the way it rolled off of my tongue. I liked the fact that her initials were MMM, which, as a graphic designer, I could imagine turning into a beautiful logo. I wondered what the M. in the middle stood for: Mary? Margaret? Marie? And, of course, I wondered who Megan M. McClung was, the life she lived. And so, fifteen minutes ago, I typed her name into Google.
Major Megan M. McClung was the first female officer killed in Iraq. She was a public affairs officer who was escorting Oliver North and a FOX News crew through Ramadi just moments before a roadside bomb took her life. She was 34 years old. But I don't want to dwell on the death of Megan M. McClung, but rather, her life, as Megan seems like someone I would have enjoyed being friends with, had our paths ever crossed. A—unlike myself!—natural redhead, Megan was a spirited soul. Described by those who knew her as having a steel-like constitution, (despite the fact that she weighed in around 100 pounds soaking wet) she was a triathlete who competed in grueling Ironman competitions—running, swimming and bicycling—around the world. Even while in Iraq, this freckled firebrand would run along the Tigris at nightfall, and help organize marathons.
Megan grew up in one of my favorite parts of California—Orange County—but later moved to the state of Washington, where her parents live today. One of the things that has struck me most about Megan is not her accomplishments in school (she received her masters’ degree in criminal justice from Boston University), or her triathalons (six!), or in her military career (she was a hard-working and well-respected), but in her accomplishments as a human being. I've spent the past three hours reading through page after page of posts, letters, articles and blogs written by Megan's friends, family, and colleagues, and I am touched at how in only 34 years, this beautiful, inspiring, and incredibly courageous young woman was able to touch so many lives. And I am thankful that today, she touched mine as well.