During his Memorial Day speech, President Barack Obama recognized a local Navy Seal from Maryland, Lt. Brendan Looney. Looney and his best friend, 1st Lt. Travis Manion, both died serving their country. They're buried side-by-side at Arlington National Cemetery.
“We miss him… we just miss him,” said Kevin Looney, Brendan’s father. The young lieutenant was killed in Afghanistan last September.
“Every day we cry, but we just carry on the best we can,” said Looney’s mother Maureen.
On the first Memorial Day since Looney's death, his parents and three younger sisters gathered at his grave. The site is marked with red, white and blue flowers, flags, ribbons and balloons, a symbol of Looney's patriotism and dedication to his country.
“He had just re-upped for another five years,” said Erin Looney, his sister. “He believed in what he was doing. He wasn't going to stop.”
Looney, a Navy Seal and star athlete at Dematha high school, is buried next to his Naval Academy roommate and best friend, Travis Manion. Manion died in Iraq four years ago and was initially buried in Philadelphia. After Looney's death, Manion’s body was exhumed and moved to Arlington National Cemetery last year so the two could be buried side-by-side.
“They were never separated … they're always together,” said Brendan’s sister Kellie.
Manion's mother says having her son reunited with his best friend provides some comfort. “Of course i want them back.. it means everything to me,” Janet Manion said.
In his speech, President Obama reflected on Looney and Manion's bond in life and in combat.
“The friendship between 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion and Lieutenant Brendan Looney reflects the meaning of Memorial Day. Brotherhood. Sacrifice. Love of country,” the president said. “And it is my fervent prayer that we may honor the memory of the fallen by living out those ideals every day of our lives, in the military and beyond.”
Looney's family says the outpouring of support from the president to complete strangers gives them a sense of pride.
“Obviously their story of friendship is being told and that's what we want,” Looney’s mother said.