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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    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."

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    austinmayoron August 07, 2006   Link

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