“Holy War”

Crammed into a subway car on the way to work, earbuds in, singer is singing:

“Oh my word it’s a holy war/ Kids get burned on the killing floor.”

There’s a boy sitting in front of me, maybe 10 years old. He takes two toy soldiers out of his camouflaged backpack, starts playing with them.

“Captain, captain my aim is true/ Shot those men like you told me to.”

The toy soldiers raise their rifles and engage the battle, jumping over imaginary land mines, ducking silent, unseen sniper fire. The soldiers are plastic, expressionless, but there is excitement in the boy’s face, adrenaline ignites his eyes.

“But I don’t know what I’m fighting for/And I don’t know what to feel no more.”

My mind starts racing, wondering about the boy. Is he a military brat? Is his parent dead? Is that why he’s riding the train by himself? Would that kind of loss make a boy want to fight more or less? Does it honor the memory of the fallen to follow the same path? Or to diverge from it, to try at all cost to stay alive?

“All my love has long since gone/It’s only fear when the night comes on.”

Is it child’s play? A solitary boy, incongruously surrounded by adults on a rush hour train, enjoying a moment of abandon before school?

“I don’t know what I’m crying for/And I don’t know what to feel no more.”

Or a look ahead to the boy’s future, to all of ours, to a war not yet conceived?


Lyrics from “Holy War” by Anthony D’Amato


One thought on ““Holy War”

  1. I find the lyrics of this song piercing as well! How poignant that a little boy has toy soldiers that might one day represent where he might be as a soldier. The same could be said of many video games that translates kills into “scores” and thus degrade humanity.
    It is a struggle to deal with guns and violence in our world. As parents, we determined to not have any guns in our home but I am pleased to know that our country has historically often stood for the right things in defense of our freedoms. Using weapons and military solutions are best deployed after ALL other efforts have been exhausted and in more recent times, our reliance and even over confidence in our superiority have duped us into destructive episodes. In 2009, I visited Belgium in research for a book and found something interesting:

    One of the memories of visiting Belgium was when saw Europeans dressed up as Americans in World War II uniforms at a celebrations in Brussels. If imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, then seeing and hearing the Belgians talk about how grateful they still are seventy years after liberation that confirms the importance of teaching each generation the history of our heroes. Quiet the i-pads and “smart” phones long enough to share some memories even risking the accusation of boredom from another generation. If you have something you can share about your own life or a family member that will be significant to the next generation it is important to do so. If you don’t talk about it, those lessons will be lost forever. The people of Europe will never forget June of 1945, when young Allied Forces climbed up the stone wall cliffs of Normandy to start their liberation from the Nazis. Personally, I am grateful that they had and used deadly weapons even though every life lost both of the enemy and of our own is a tragic loss.

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