During my haircut the other day, the Dropkick Murphys were playing…and let me say this, how cool is that…but it reminded me of Veterans Day. The song was called “The Green Fields of France” and it is a great reminder of a time when Armistice Day was a hope that it would end all wars. If only.
Well how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
And rest for a while ‘neath the warm summer sun
I’ve been working all day and I’m nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the dead heroes of nineteen-sixteen.
I hope you died well and I hope you died clean
Or Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene.
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
Did they sound the dead-march as they lowered you down.
And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined
Although you died back there in nineteen-sixteen
In that faithful heart are you ever nineteen
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed and forgotten behind the glass frame
In a old photograph, torn and battered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame.
The sun now it shines on the green fields of France
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds
There’s no gas, no barbed wire, there’s no guns firing now
But here in this graveyard it’s still no-man’s-land
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generaation that were butchered and damned.
Now young Willie McBride I can’t help but wonder why
Do all those who lie here know why they died
And did they believe when they answered the cause
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain
The killing and dying was all done in vain
For young Willie McBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.
Copyright by Eric Bogle
This is in honor of all veterans, of all wars, foreign and domestic, who hopefully believed that the cause they were fighting for was truly worth dying for. May they rest in eternal peace.