Jeremy Kane had always wanted to serve his country, according to those who knew him best.
For starters, said his mother, Melinda Kane, he was born on a Louisiana army base, and as a child, vividly recalled his father leaving the house in uniform. His grandfather had served in the Marines. Then, there was the fact that Kane became a Bar Mitzvah in 2001, the same year that the United States suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in its history.
Four years ago, the resident of Cherry Hill, N.J., signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was studying criminal justice at Rutgers University-Camden when he was deployed.
On Jan. 23, a suicide bomber attacked his battalion in the Helmand province in Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Kane, 22, was killed, and several others were wounded.
"He chose a challenging path," said Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz of Congregation M'kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, a Reform synagogue where Kane became a Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed. "He chose to be an enlisted Marine, rather than an ROTC officer. He chose not to defer his deployment when he had the possibility of doing so."
Kane's father Bruce, a physician and retired major in the U.S. Army, passed away in 2008 af- ter a battle with cancer. The eldest of three brothers, Kane had wanted to be there for his fam-ily. But in the end, he chose to go to Afghanistan with his unit, which was deployed in October.
A funeral service was held on Jan. 29 at M'kor Shalom.
Kane was later buried at Locustwood Cemetery, also in Cherry Hill.
Schwartz, who officiated, described his former student as "a full human being in every aspect — and in the best sense of the word."
Visiting Israel with his confirmation class was a defining experience in Kane's life, according to the rabbi, recalling that the teenager returned back home "with a greater sense of self-confidence."
Melinda Kane called the trip "a life-altering event."
She added that the combination of seeing the Jewish state's history alongside "the military involvement there, and how the military in Israel is praised and respected," were key moments for her son.
Schwartz said that the Israel-trip fund for M'Kor Shalom's confirmation classes has been renamed in Kane's honor.
On the day of the funeral last Friday, students from Cherry Hill High School East lined the streets along the route to the cemetery, as did members of the American Legion and the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America.
Michael Bornfreund, one of Kane's closest friends, described him as fun-loving and quick to make a joke. The two had hosted a radio show together when they were in college.
While Bornfreund said that Kane had mentioned a desire to serve his country, he said that his friend rarely displayed his more pensive side in public.
"He was able to turn anything into a positive," affirmed Bornfreund. "He was so unselfish, regardless of what was going on."
In terms of his feelings — or possible fears — about going to Afghanistan, added Bornfreund, Kane "really didn't share much with us."