Ira Hayes
Ira Hayes
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or 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 Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix Valley
In Arizona land
Down the ditches a thousand years
The waters grew Ira's peoples' crops
'Til the white man stole their water rights
And the sparkling 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

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the marine that went to war

There they battled up Iwo Jima hill
Two hundred and fifty men
But only twenty-seven 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 drinking Indian
Or the marine that went to war

Ira Hayes 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 home, no chance
At home nobody cared what Ira'd done
And when did the Indians dance

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the marine that went to war

Then Ira started drinking 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 and a lonely ditch
Was a grave for Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won't answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the marine that went to war

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


Lyrics submitted by ButNeverOutgunned

"The Ballad of Ira Hayes" as written by Peter Lafarge

Lyrics © CARLIN AMERICA INC

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The Ballad of Ira Hayes (Peter La Farge cover) song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI saw Flags of Our Fathers yesterday...sad that I've known this song for some years without ever really knowing the story of Ira Hayes.
    Moses19on October 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI joined just to comment on this song. As a Marine I share a bond with every other Marine past, present, and future. Luckily I discovered this song. It does a perfect job describing the inner conflict that many Marines feel after returning home. Marines do not want fame and adoration, we only want RESPECT! Ira Hayes was a hero to many Americans, but he knew, as all Marines know, that the only heroes are the ones who die in combat. The rest of us are just lucky enough to have called them brother.
    bloodmarineon May 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIra Hayes was the marine who went up Hirajima Hill in the famous picture with the marines holding up the flag...then when he went back home he died a drunk cus he was an indian and we were still a racist country
    1stsskornon January 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJesus Christ....it's NOT HIRAJIMA it's "IWO JIMA", and it's NOT HIRAJIMA hill, it MOUNT SURABACHI, on which the flag was raised. You are correct Ira Hayes and five others raised the flag on the Mount, to show the end of Japanese control of the island. Only three survived Iwo Jima though. The picture was so loved by the public that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had the remaining three survivors of which Ira was one, shipped home to aid war bond drives. Ira Hayes though asked to be sent back to the front lines, stating that "sometimes I wish that guy had never made that picture". Yes America was racist against indians, but Ira Hayes didn't die because of racism. After the war Ira returned to his reservation, disillusion by what he felt to be unneccesary adoration. Ira became a drunk, because he could not handle, the fact that he had been made a hero just because of one photo. Ira died in 1955 of exposure...
    Napoleon Soloon February 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe so few people have commented on Johnny Cash, while horrible bands like fall out boy are overflowed. It is a shame where American music has gone. Kids need to learn about the classics, instead of the garbage mtv force-feeds them.
    zmilla111on February 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a great song, need more be said.
    OpinionHeadon March 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA man who turns his back on his family, for a world he doesnt understand or can cope with. Turns to drink, dies alone.
    durham-redon June 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIra Hamilton Hayes (January 12, 1923 – January 24, 1955) was a United States Marine of Native American descent and survivor of World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima. He was one of six Marines, along with a US Navy corpsman, in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.

    After the war, Hayes attempted to lead an anonymous life. But it didn't turn out that way. "I kept getting hundreds of letters. And people would drive through the reservation, walk up to me and ask, 'Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima'?"

    Referring to his alcoholism, he once said: "I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they're not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me." After the war, Hayes accumulated some fifty arrests for drunkenness.

    On January 24, 1955, Hayes was found dead near an abandoned hut close to his home on the Gila River Indian Reservation. He had been drinking and playing cards with several other men, including his brothers Kenny and Vernon, and another fellow Pima named Henry Setoyant. The coroner concluded that Hayes' death was due to exposure and too much alcohol. Ira Hayes was 32.

    Hayes was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At the funeral, fellow flag-raiser Rene Gagnon said of him: "Let's say he had a little dream in his heart that someday the Indian would be like the white man — be able to walk all over the United States."

    tinyurl.com/…
    austinmayoron August 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI totally agree with you zmilla111
    gdoggon August 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwatch 'flags of our fathers' if you wanna see him
    last-dodoon January 05, 2007   Link

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