Stanza 77


The colonel in command knew his marines
Had shot and killed a young man in his teens,
But did not know the reason for this act.
While reinforcements struggled to extract
The second squad he had not interfered,
But officer and sergeant both appeared
Before the boss as soon as they arrived
To tell him why the boy had not survived.
"Lieutenant, tell me if I am correct.
Your squad destroyed the villagers' respect
That our battalion labored to achieve,
When you dispatched that boy. I can't believe
That all our efforts to secure goodwill
Could vanish in a heartbeat. When you kill
I need a reason that will satisfy
The people who observed this fellow die."
The young lieutenant at attention stood
And answered as he knew a leader should,
"Sir, I'm at fault, his threats were very plain
But now I know he should not have been slain."