Veterans Day: 'The Ballad Of Ira Hayes'

The "Ballad of Ira Hayes" as performed by Johnny Cash.

The "Ballad of Ira Hayes" as performed by Johnny Cash.

Ira Hayes,
Ira Hayes

[CHORUS:]
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Gather round me people there's a story I would tell
About a brave young Indian you should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land

Down the ditches for a thousand years
The water grew Ira's peoples' crops
'Till the white man stole the water rights
And the sparklin' water stopped

Now Ira's folks were hungry
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came, Ira volunteered
And forgot the white man's greed

[CHORUS:]
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

There they battled up Iwo Jima's hill,
Two hundred and fifty men
But only twenty-seven lived to walk back down again

And when the fight was over
And when Old Glory raised
Among the men who held it high
Was the Indian, Ira Hayes

[CHORUS:]
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Ira returned a hero
Celebrated through the land
He was wined and speeched and honored; Everybody shook his hand

But he was just a Pima Indian
No water, no crops, no chance
At home nobody cared what Ira'd done
And when did the Indians dance

[CHORUS:]
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Then Ira started drinkin' hard;
Jail was often his home
They'd let him raise the flag and lower it
like you'd throw a dog a bone!

He died drunk one mornin'
Alone in the land he fought to save
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch
Was a grave for Ira Hayes

[CHORUS:]
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian
Nor the Marine that went to war

Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes
But his land is just as dry
And his ghost is lyin' thirsty
In the ditch where Ira died

To all our veterans out there, we thank you for your service to our country.

Remember, honor the dead, and fight for the living!

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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