On flagged casket’s altar all made kith and blood:
See the fresh earth beckons proud tribune,
now broken-bodied Brian, too soon
buried. By same rude bridge that arched the flood.
Before life freely given, the living know
worse than cruel, Mars plays careless with Marines.
Love’s wounded tend eternity’s routines,
placing markers where the broken-hearted go.
Providence! Know your son in earth’s employ?
Taught him well to lead, self-made-servant: Boy–
Father who bent for blistered, enlisted feet.
Finished now, in cold homage memory wreathed:
On Tuwayhah’s sands last this lieutenant breathed
and knew the Christ in enemy brother.
* Marine Lt. Brian McPhillips, killed in an ambush in Tuwayhah, Iraq, on April 4, 2003. Buried at Concord, Mass.
–William McGurn is the Wall Street Journal’s chief editorial writer and a member of its editorial board.