Ballad of Ira Hayes

Ira Hayes, Ira Hayes

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
’bout a brave young Indian you should remember well,
from the land of the Pima Indians, a proud and nobel band,
who farmed the Phoenix Valley in Arizona land.

Down their ditches a thousand years, the waters grew Ira’s people’s crops
till the white man stole their water rights and the sparklin’ water stopped.
Now, Ira’s folks were hungry and their land grew crops of weeds.
When the war came, Ira volunteered and forgot the white man’s greed.

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 Hill; 250 men,
but only 27 lived to walk back down again.
And when the fight was over, and Old Glory raised,
among the men who held it high was the Indian, Ira Hayes.

Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he won’t answer anymore;
not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian, nor the marine that went to war.

Ira Hayes returned a hero, celebrated through the land.
He was wined and speeched and honored, ev’rybody shook his hand.
But he was just a Pima Indian; no water, no home, no chance.
At home nobody cared what Ira had done.
And when do the Indians dance?

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 let him raise the flag and lower it like you’d throw a dog a bone.
He died drunk early one morning, alone in the land he fought to save.
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch was a grave for Ira Hayes.

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 were Ira died.

 

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