I am part of the second generation of men
who are not proud anymore
and are afraid to ask what their country can do for them;
to find out just what kind of money they can spend
to fight wars
on distant oil shores
that our congressmen
will never step foot on.

I have trekked through miles of sand
and began to understand
the feelings of my forefathers
when they landed at Omaha,
Normandy, Tobruk, and Burma.

I have ridden on top of tanks
and jumped from great flying machines.
I have put a bullet through the head
of a man who was lying to me.

I was just following orders.
I was just following orders.

I held many a hand of men who were trying
to reason with me,
of women who were crying,
of children who were dying.
And I had the courage to shoot,
but I didn’t have the courage to ask,

And my friends back home say they’re proud of me.
They tell stories to strangers
of the missions I’m on
and the countries I’ll see.
But I get worried about the day
when they’re forty
on a porch, telling stories
about their buddy Chris
who went to Iraq
and never made it back.

And sometimes I write home with stories
about how I get a kick out of
boys from Brooklyn who
speak passionately about pizza
and try to convey the feeling of
hungry stomachs filled with MRE’s.

Or that kid from Boston who is
gonna open up that Ca’ garage
when he gets back.
If he’s got the funds for that.
Maybe he’ll get a loan,
if he doesn’t make it back to Boston as bones

Yesterday I heard a soldier pray
that he would give anything
to be back in the States
to see his son born today.
When the dawn broke through the desert air
I saw him step without a care
onto a landmine
that the dogs didn’t find.
And he lost both his legs.

The sergeant said,
I guess we all get what we ask for.

My great-grandfather lost his toes
to the snows
as a British footsoldier
during a winter on the eastern front.
And my grandpa died somewhere
in the jungles of Korea.
And my pop,
well that bastard caught gonorrhea,
in some Vietnamese brothel.
And me,
I fry eggs out in the desert
trying to pass the time between
bombs and boredom

And the media says I’m too desensitized.

These men I share weapons with all share
something in common.
Not pride or honor or patriotism.
We were raised on network news
and namebrand shoes
We went from G.I. Joes to Playstations 2’s
to real life battlefields.
I don’t think this is how desensitized feels.

But who am I to know the difference?
We were just following orders.

I am part of the second generation of men
who are not proud anymore
and afraid to ask what their country can do for them.
Fighting wars, on oil shores,
fueled by tax payers’ money.
And we’re terrified of dying out here
for a cause we don’t believe in.
But mostly, we’re afraid to ask,
What we can do for our country.

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