Honoring our Veterans: A Legacy of Inspiration

Since 2014, St. Joseph’s Prep has been developing leaders driven by the spirit of 1stLt Travis Manion, USMC--graduate of La Salle College High School who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country while serving in Iraq. The sentiment “If Not Me, Then Who” has been shared on t-shirts, banners, bracelets, and in the hearts of Prep students who have been inspired by Travis’s spirit, life of service, and selflessness. 

The mission of the Travis Manion Foundation Hawks (TMF Hawks) is to honor the fallen by challenging the living. Tirelessly led by English teacher Susie Cook, the TMF Hawks host a leadership academy, seminars and workshops throughout the year where they reflect on the importance of leadership and animate the virtues of integrity, personal responsibility, moral and physical courage, ethical decision-making, and humility.

Guided and mentored by veterans, Gold Star families, and active military officers, more than 1,000 Prep students have graduated from the TMF Leadership Academies and have served across Philadelphia in the Foundation’s Operation Legacy service events. Ryan Manion, Travis’ sister and President of the Travis Manion Foundation, recently joined the Prep’s Mother-Son Communion Breakfast to share her gratitude to St. Joseph’s Prep for keeping Travis’ memory alive and developing leadership skills among our students. 

Manion reflected on her experience as a Gold Star sister after losing her brother. She described her grief process as “jackhammer" and ran in the Marine Corps Marathon that fall, all while trying to suppress her grief through physical exercise and activities that diverted her attention away from her loss. Over the years, Manion has learned to replace that jackhammer with a "chisel"--tackling her struggles with a more tactical approach. Her work with the Foundation has taught her that building relationships, working with purpose, and being vulnerable are paramount in chiseling meaning out of loss and developing a resilient and inspiring life.

Each year in November, our country honors our Veterans. At the Prep, the TMF Hawks sponsors Veterans Week, holding many activities to hear from veterans, learn about leadership, and honor their service and sacrifice. All Prep students and families are invited to participate in the TMF Hawks events and service projects to serve alongside our nation’s heroes. Inspired by Travis Manion's life and by others who heed the call to service, the more than 1,000 Prep students who have participated over the years are indeed inspired and inspiring. 

For more information on the TMF Hawks, click here. For more information on the Travis Manion Foundation, click here.