When Johnny Comes Marching Home

This is a strange goddam thing.

My son was in the Iraq War. In 2009 his mother co-wrote this terrible song about him, and it’s on YouTube.

I found it more or less by accident, and, as regular readers know, I was not happy to have Dick Cheney’s knife at my son’s throat, nor was I happier when it was revealed that the reasons for invading a sovereign nation (half-a-world away that bore no immediate threat to the USA) were manufactured, or, to be extremely charitable, the result of wishful, magical thinking. I have never belabored the point, nor are your sentiments —  supportive or snarky — solicited or desired (that’s a hint, pilgrim).

But here is the strange “kicker” to the whole strange interlude that began on 9-11-2001, less than two weeks after my son entered college on an ROTC scholarship.

Via friends in and out of the Army, I was able to track him, fitfully, and I DID know that he’d been sent to Iraq. But it was a month to month thing, and I could only watch helplessly, as parents all over America did. Waiting for news. Waiting to know whether your child was OK, was dead, was wounded — as the song says “Never knew there was worse things than dyin’.”

And now, this song appears via YouTube, and I present it to you as a footnote, as the Arne Saknussemm mark* that the passage was real and not merely the fantasies of some blogger somewhere, looking for a rhetorical trope to bash the War Criminals of the Bush Administration who ordered this disastrous enterprise. This TRILLION DOLLAR disastrous enterprise. (Did I mention that we hanged Nazis in the Nuremberg trials for the crime of “Wars of Aggression”? Didn’t? Must have slipped my mind, just as it’s conveniently slipped everyone else’s mind.)

[* Descend, bold traveler, into the crater of Snæfellsjökull, which the shadow of Scartaris touches (lit: tastes) before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the earth; which I have done. Arne SaknussemmJules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth.)

I suppress the urge to say “Well, at least you got a small taste of what it’s like to have your child literally torn from your arms.”

He’s Coming Back


True story from the life of a mother of an Army Captain in the Iraq war. Music & Lyrics by Steve Schalchlin. Lyrics by Avril Roy-Smith. Performed by Steve Sc…

My son made it back from Iraq OK.


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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