Baby soldier blues
Christopher at Barbaric Yawp sent me this via e-mail, since my puny "comments" won't accept anything over 1,000 characters.
It speaks powerfully for itself, so I won't add any comments, other than to say Christopher and I have shared a few e-mails in the past about the horror of this kind of war, both in-service and after.
Once again, I have exceeded the word count limit in your comments section, so I'm sending it by e-mail.
Perhaps a song I wrote some years ago is in order here...
You went when you were just eighteen, with glory in your eyes,
Believing in your country, God and truth.
And suddenly you landed in a jungle full of fear
That killed your soul and robbed you of your youth.
You thought that you would find
Something noble in your mind
That somehow all your sacrifice made sense.
But you found out they lied
And something in you died
And now you're on the outside of the fence.
(Chorus) And hey, hey, short-time soldier
The torment and the tears won't go away.
And hey, hey, short-time soldier,
They fixed it so that you can't even pray.
And it seems like only death will set you free,
And "Don’t mean nothin'" is your litany.
The bullets, bombs and booby traps just never seemed to quit;
You never knew what moment you might die.
And just about the time you felt you might be safe at last,
Here came Agent Orange from the sky.
There wasn't any hope
And so you turned to dope,
Anything to give your nerves a rest.
Your brain went out of gear
For that everlasting year,
A cruel and insane survival test.
Your friends got wasted one by one, wondering why they died
And now you can't get close to anyone.
And then you came back to the world, thankful for your life,
But nervous 'cause they took away your gun.
And when they let you out
There wasn't any doubt
That you were not the boy you were before.
And, yes, you felt the lack
When you weren't welcomed back
And knew America had slammed the door.
You’re always in the movies and always on the tube,
A wild-eyed and stressed out psychopath.
They call you baby-killer and they spit upon the ground.
The war was bad, but why this aftermath?
So now you hide away
And you won’t come out by day.
You keep the dreams away with dope and booze.
And it’s a goddam shame
That you had to change your name
Runnin’ from a war you didn’t lose.
Bainbridge Island, Washington