This song is dedicated to the many WW2 soldiers I have known and the many more who I have not. It was directly inspired by two men I knew in Indianapolis, Indiana in the late ’90s. They had both served in WW2, one in the Navy and one in the Marines. They had even fought in the same battle once, and lived a mile apart when I knew them, but they did not know one another. Both men craved sharing stories about their experiences in WW2. Yet, their stories (as well as other WW2 vets that I have known) shared two common features. First, they would not call themselves a “hero” and reserved that title only for others. Second, they could only go so far with their stories before an invisible line was approached that they would not cross. As much as they wanted to share their stories, there were certain things that they just would not talk about.
This song is also dedicated to the wives of these stalwart men. Many wives and girlfriends got a very different man back after WW2, if their man came home at all. It was important for me to include a verse dedicated to the women who stood by their men who lived with the ghosts of WW2 the rest of their lives. Of course, there were many women who served in WW2 in various capacities at home and abroad. A hearty “thank you” to them!
Please share this song with any old vets you know. It is for them.
This song can be downloaded on several sites, including iTunes. See link below:
The lyrics are below:
Ballad of an Old Soldier
v1. family reunion time once again- been going since I was a kid- I know the faces but, the names slip my mind- A gray-haired man caught my eye- I walked over to ask him why- he stood out from the ordinary man-and he said…
Ch. I’m just an old soldier, you might not understand- but from Normandy to Bataan- I’ve got memories chiseled deep in my heart- and I can never close my eyes without hearing the sound of mortars fly, while I’m fighting on a bloody battlefield- and I cry out to God above, for fallen soldiers that I love…they were heroes, but as for me…I’m just an old soldier
v2. I saw a man in a nursing home, sitting in his room all alone-just staring out at a cold winter day- I saw something in his eyes that made me stop and ask him why- he stood out from the ordinary man- then he said…
v3. I saw a man in a casket lie, his wife leaned down to kiss him bye-her tears falling softly on his chest- then she turned to face the crowd- she just wanted to say how proud, she was of the man she’d loved for all those years- then she said…
alt ch. He was just an old soldier you might not understand, but from Normandy to Bataan- he had memories chiseled deep in his heart- and he could never close his eyes without hearing the sound of mortars fly-while he was fighting on a bloody battlefield- and I would sometimes hear him cry, for soldiers fallen by his side- he called them heroes, but as for him…he was just an old soldier