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Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one of those words. - John Wayne

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Lance Corporal John Mattek Jr. USMC
by Cordeiro
News of the passing of Lance Corporal John Mattek comes via Blackfive. Johnny had the storybook life. High School class president for three of four years, star linebacker and champion wrestler. September 11, 2001 changed all that.

Johnny left college, where he had continued playing football, and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He knew that by so doing he could possibly become a casualty of war. On June 8th, he became one of the some 1,700 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given the last full measure of devotion to their country.

I mention Johnny here because he gave his family a letter to be opened in the event of his death. It is dated March 3, 2005 and I take its text from the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:

The flag stands for freedom and I will defend her. No matter what the cause, because the cause is just paperwork for the weak. It's the buddy to my left and right that will be defended by my hand, my blade, my bullet. I will fear no man, no enemy. I will forego heaven if hell is where the fight is. I have done what I have done and I will do what I will do. At the end of the day God will decide where my soul lay. Upon the arrival of this day, there will be peace on the battlefield and at home. Thy shall not mourn my death, but celebrate my life. Because every man dies, but not every man really lives. I have lived ...
Now if I may be so bold as to correct a quotation made by Blackfive in his tribute to Lance Corporal Mattek. He cited the last verse of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, penned by Julie Ward Howe. There has been one very important revision in some versions of this Hymn. This change is emphasized by me:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me; As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free, While God is marching on.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain... - Abraham Lincoln November 19, 1863

Godspeed Johnny.
2 Comment(s):
I am from Antigo, the small town Johnny grew up in. He was a few years older than me, but I had to opportunity to be around him in the weight room and around town. The man was truly strong and it is an honor to see that the word spread about the kind of man he was. He stood for everything most people want to, and he never gave in. I hope his story can inspire people who read about him, just like he inspired everyone he was around. Thank You.
I also live in Antigo and have known the Mattek family and Johnny for many years. Johnny was a great man, who really loved to live! I send my sympothy to the Matteks and I know that Johnny gave all and was just a great guy! And i would just like to thank Johnny for everything he has done. He really made our community realize that even in our small town there are great people who would give it all for our country! THANK YOU and You'll Always be Remembered Johnny Jr.
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