Friday, June 4, 2010

Remembering Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht

The AP reported that the one thousandth KIA of the war in Afghanistan occurred a few days before Memorial Day:
The 1,000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan was born on the Fourth of July. He died several days before Americans honor fallen troops on Memorial Day.

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht was killed Thursday when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm. It was the 24-year-old Texan's second deployment overseas.

Leicht had begged to return to the battlefield after a bomb took out his Humvee in Iraq. He spent two painful years recovering from face and leg injuries, all the while pining for combat in letters from his hospital bed.

He finally got back to the front lines, but was killed less than a month into the tour of duty he desperately wanted.

"He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered," said Jesse Leicht, his younger brother. "He didn't want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something."
I paused there as I was reminded me of another man who wished to die in his boots: Robert Louis Stevenson. A few years ago I bought a copy of Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. It's an amazing book for young children  learning to use their imagination as they also learn to read. Here's a poem to remember Marine Cpl. Jacob Leicht by:

Dear Uncle Jim, this garden ground,
That now you smoke your pipe around,
Has seen immortal actions done
And valiant battles lost and won.

Here we had best on tip-toe tread,
While I for safety march ahead,
For this is that enchanted ground
Where all who loiter slumber sound.

Here is the sea, here is the sand,
Here is simple Shepherd’s Land,
Here are the fairy hollyhocks,
And there are Ali Baba’s rocks.

But yonder, see! apart and high,
Frozen Siberia lies; where I,
With Robert Bruce and William Tell,
Was bound by an enchanter’s spell.

There, then, a while in chains we lay,
In wintry dungeons, far from day;
But ris’n at length, with might and main,
Our iron fetters burst in twain.

Then all the horns were blown in town;
And, to the ramparts clanging down,
All the giants leaped to horse
And charged behind us through the gorse.

On we rode, the others and I,
Over the mountains blue, and by
The Silver River, the sounding sea,
And the robber woods of Tartary.

A thousand miles we galloped fast,
And down the witches’ lane we passed,
And rode amain, with brandished sword,
Up to the middle, through the ford.

Last we drew rein—a weary three—
Upon the lawn, in time for tea,
And from our steeds alighted down
Before the gates of Babylon.

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