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Remembering Janet Manion, a woman of uncommon strength

Janet Manion 1954-2012 (Courtesy Travis Manion Foundation)

The following is taken from the Travis Manion Foundation website.

On April 24, the Travis Manion Foundation lost its founder, chairman and visionary when Janet Manion, mother of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. She died surrounded by her loving family in Doylestown, Pa., at the age of 58.

The Travis Manion Foundation’s board of directors, employees, and volunteers send our deepest condolences to Janet’s husband, Col. Tom Manion (Ret.), their daughter, Ryan Manion Borek, Ryan’s husband, David Borek, Janet’s granddaughters, Maggie and Honor Borek, and all of Janet’s relatives and friends.

The impact Janet Manion has had on our country is immeasurable. The wife of a Marine, Janet helped raise two wonderful children who put service to others before personal gain. Nothing was a greater source of pride to Janet than her family, which she demonstrated every day of her life.

She has a lot to be proud of. Her son, 1st Lt. Travis Manion, distinguished himself as an exemplary Marine during two combat deployments to Iraq. His final act of courage came on Apr. 29, 2007, when “his courageous and deliberate actions inspired the eventual counter attack and ultimately saved the lives of every member of his patrol,” as his posthumous Silver Star citation reads.

Later that day, Janet Manion got the knock on her door that every military mom dreads. On a spring Sunday afternoon in Doylestown, Pa., Marines told the mother that her only son had been killed in action.

Immediately after the tragic news from Iraq reached her doorstep, family members, friends, and the military community wrapped their arms around Janet, Tom, and Ryan. They visited, called, and sent letters and e-mails to express condolences and support. They also sent flowers, food, and even financial contributions to help the family during its time of crisis.

When the first check arrived in her mailbox, Janet never once considered keeping a single dime for herself. After establishing a Memorial Fund in their son’s memory, the Manions established the Travis Manion Foundation with an ambitious, crucial mission: honoring the fallen by challenging the living. Even during a time of enormous pain and grief, Janet would lead the foundation as its chairman. Her husband served on the foundation’s board of directors, while her daughter became executive director.

Janet worked day and night to ensure that the Travis Manion Foundation lived up to its noble creed. Under her leadership, the foundation quickly grew into a leading military charity that assists American troops, veterans, and military families.

On Sept. 11, 2011, Janet’s vision could be seen in 37 cities around the world. On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, more than 50,000 citizens came together for the 9/11 Heroes Run, which honors and remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“We have one primary goal – to bring community after community together every September 11th to never forget the sacrifice of all our heroes in uniform: military, police, firefighters, and EMTs,” Janet said in 2011 about the annual event, which will be held again this year on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Outside of the foundation she led, Janet was a leading voice for military families. In 2011, Janet was asked to join the Advisory Commission of Arlington National Cemetery, where she served alongside distinguished military and civilian leaders. As the only Gold Star family member on the Commission, Janet helped ensure that the nation’s most hallowed cemetery – where her own son is buried – is a place that every American can visit with reverence, patriotism, and pride.

Before her son left for his final tour in Iraq, he was asked why he had to return to the war zone. His response was simple, yet direct: “If not me, then who…”

Janet didn’t just take her only son’s words to heart. Every single day since Apr. 29, 2007, she lived them.

Shortly before her death, Janet described her emotions to her daughter.

“I don’t feel fear,” she said. “I feel a different sense of peace.”

Five years after 1st Lt. Travis Manion was called home, a mother and son are reunited for eternity. Here on earth, Janet Manion’s mission of honoring the fallen by challenging the living continues through the foundation that bears her son’s name.
We love you and miss you.

A viewing will be held for Janet Manion on Friday, Apr. 27, from 6-8 p.m. at Reed & Steinbach Funeral Home, 2335 Lower State Rd., Doylestown, PA 18901.

A viewing will also be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Apr. 28, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 235 E State Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Mass will follow at 11 a.m.

Interment will follow at a later date to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, the Manion family asks that contributions be made to the Travis Manion Foundation.  You can make a donation by clicking here.

Fred Beans Automotive Group is proud to be a founding sponsor of the 9/11 Heroes Run and to support the efforts of the Travis Manion Foundation as it carries out the vision and mission established by Janet Manion and her family. Our deepest condolences go out to the family at this sorrowful time.