Monday, May 30, 2011

Anti-war Anthems: "Bring the Boys Home" by Freda Payne

On Memorial Day Americans honor the memory of generations of soldiers who gave their lives in past wars. While every family is right to recognize the humanity of those sacrificed in this country's violent history, I've never understood why Americans allow the politicians to stand there saying "Support Our Troops" when the best way to do so would be to bring the troops home from futile and unnecessary wars waged for dubious foreign policy goals or for the profit of corporations.

"Support the Troops" is often, in fact, used to shout down opposition to this country's wars. Here's the ugly truth: those who claim to support the troops while opposing efforts to bring American soldiers home sooner rather than later are offering the same kind of support to those troops that a noose offers a hanging man. They are responsible for prolonging the tragic waste of war. The blood of America's children serving in these wars as well as the blood of innocents in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya are on their hands. Nobody wants to think that the lives of their loved ones were wasted or squandered, but wishing that doesn't make it so.

So don't talk to me about "Support our troops." Bring them home.

This song was recorded by soul singer Freda Payne back in 1971 during the Vietnam War. (I didn't know until looking for it on Youtube that it had also been remade by Canadian singer Jann Arden). I wish there was a better video available, this one is just lyrics.

"Fathers are pleading, lovers are all alone
Mothers are prayin', send our sons back home
You marched them away on ships and planes
To a senseless war facing death in vain

Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)

(Why don't you) Turn the ships around
(Everybody oughta) Lay your weapons down

Can't you see 'em marchin' 'cross the sky?
All the soldiers that have died
Tryin' to get home
Can't you see them tryin' to get home?
Tryin' to get home
They're tryin' to get home

Cease all fire on the battlefield
Enough men have already been wounded and killed
Bring the boys home (bring 'em back alive)
What they doin' over there now (bring 'em back alive)
When we need 'em over here now? (bring 'em back alive)

(Why don't you) Turn the ships around
(Everybody oughta) Lay your weapons down"

How can it be that forty years later this song is still relevant? Shame on you, America.


  1. In this war – as in others – I am less interested in honoring the dead than in preventing the dead.
    ~Butler Shaffer

    Old men declare war because they have failed to solve complex political and economic problems.
    ~Arthur Hoppe

    Servile Journalism for Memorial Day
    (an article from last year)


  3. thanks swboy. Wow I had never seen that clip. powerful stuff.

  4. taking words and phrases back, as you might have noticed, is a favorite thing to do of mine.

    i love to say i'm proud to be an american, and that this is my america, because i hate that the people who usually say it are racist, homophobic, and hateful fearmongers.

    similarly, 'support our troops' could use some work too. good on ya.

  5. freebones, as commenters who I have come to know and ones that pop in to surprise me contantly prove, America is full of really decent people.

    Maybe not enough some times, but hope springs eternal.

  6. "They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason." ~ Ernest Hemingway

    That being said and having lost my uncle I never had a chance to meet in WWI - I will honor his death and clutch his medal in my hands, for that is all there is left of him.

    Had he lived, returned home and learned to his own satisfaction that the war he fought was not as much about defeating the Germans as it was about filling the pockets of American war profiteers - then I would have applauded him and stood by his side as he threw his medal back.

    I am against war and the powers that be that wage it. But I find no problem with supporting the men and women that make up the troops - and that support includes working to bring them home NOW.

  7. Annie the picture of your uncle on your blog is very moving.

    How sad to think we as a world find so many ways to deprive young people like that of a future.

    See Annie's uncle John here:

  8. Thank you ish, I miss this man I never met more than anyone I will ever know.

    I have the last five months of his life in the letters he wrote home to his mother (my grandma) - I am writing a book about him. He celebrated his 27th birthday in a small village in France just a few weeks before he died.

    Many people in California at the time wondered whether President Wilson's decision to go to war was the correct one. Of course it would be years later the truth would be known that Wilson was urged into this by the very men who would profit the most from in.

    So nothing has changed it seems.