A Scout is Helpful

"Remembering a Fireman"

A Scout is helpful. He finds ways to be of service to others and cares about others. A Scout never accepts favors nor money for his service or for Good Turns to others.

In Saint Patrick's Cemetary, alongside the markers of our war heroes and family members of war heroes stands a smaller marker. Underneight a large tree, so that in the spring and summer its greenness almost casts a cool shadow over the site, is the place in which Lani, age 6, is resting.

Resting until the Good Lord breathes life again into her body.

It is hard to imagine that a little girl whose life made you glad to be a person is laying there, eyes closed as if she was taking one of her famous "beauty naps" on a blanket; puffed cheeks ready to start talking at any momment; or, as she had done to me when she did not get her way, to try and bite hands and arms.

Lani was one of my younger brother Mitchell's "little friends". She, another little girl named B.J., and several other male "little ones" roamed the back and front yards with Mitch. She became my friend shortly after she hammered on our door one morning wanting someone to "push me". Trying to get rid of the pesky child, I took her by her little hand and led her to the swing seat on own end of the building. Lani climbed on board and I pushed her higher and higher to the delight of the child -- and myself.

While my parents would have "better things to do" witht me than for me to play with younger children, I played.

I played "cars". Lani's favorite ones were the fire and police cars. She always wanted to move them, to pretend she was the fireman. She always wanted to do "the fire sounds", the sirens. She did a pretty good job of it, too.

I always noticed the bruises and bumps on Lani's body. Sometimes it would hurt her so bad to move her arm or her leg when she played in the sand. Those days, she would get up, collect her cars and say "I go home now", tearfully. One afternoon, I dusted off the playground sand from my clothing and followed her down to her parent's apartment. I confronted an angry-looking young woman -- Lani's mother -- and was told to "mind my own business".

Later, while on a weekend away from college during the summer, I found out that Lani was sick and in the hospital. I brought a fresh bunch of flowers to her at Ireland Army Hospital, along with a toy fire engine. We played cars on the edge of her bed.

Lani died the following Monday evening.

Because I was at summer school, trying to catch up with some classes I've missed due to my new Scouting work, I could not attend the funeral. I did not go home for almost a month afterwards, and seeing little girls -- especially a little girl that the local TV stations in Lexington, Kentucky were showing as part of a commerical, holding flowers and looking "at you" -- was extremely hard for me to deal with for a long while.

Every spring afterwards, until I left to go overseas, I have broken camping trips, dates and personal pleasures to take a quiet walk alone through St. Patricks' Cemetary, located between the golf course and the Custer Drive housing area. It is not far from Rose Terrace -- the housing is considered part of the Rose Terrace military community, and it is not far from the main entrance to Fort Knox along Chaffee Avenue. Sometimes, I would place flowers on the ground near her headstone, or read a short Bible verse in which Jesus once said "...suffer the little children", or just talk.

Twice, when I was sitting there, listening to the trees rustle, fire engines would rush down Chaffee Avenue toward Rose Terrace or Van Voorhis to fight a fire.

Their sirens sounded like Lani to me.

Settummanque!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)

© 1996 Settummanque! for Blackeagle Service


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