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Born on the Fourth of July

Words and Music by Tom Paxton
(Inspired by the book by Ron Kovic)

As a schoolboy I played with a plastic grenade
It was grey and with caps it was loaded
In the dirt we would cry and dramatically die
As it flew through the air and exploded
As a young man my dream was to be a marine
My flag was worth all I could bring it
The country felt young. When the anthem was sung
Well it gave me the goosebumps to sing it.

I was born on the fourth of July
No one more loyal than I
When my country said so, I was ready to go,
And I wish I'd been left there to die.

When I landed in 'Nam I was great Uncle Sam
I was fighting for God and my mother.
And I knew what to do when my first tour was through,
I signed up and went back for another.
But it all tumbled down when we ambushed the town,
In the night how the metal was flying.
We blew it to hell. Really did our job well,
But just women and kids did the dying


In the damn DMZ it all ended for me,
The fighting broke out and we scattered.
One shot hit my heel, the last thing I'd feel,
The next hit my spine and it shattered.
In my hospital bed I could hear what was said,
And the word will stay with me forever.
With my whole life ahead, my body was dead,
And the word they were using was never.


Now I wheel myself down to the crossroads of town,
To see the young girls and their lovers.
And my mind is afire, it's alive with desire,
Christ, I'd barely begun, now it's over.
In my wheelchair for life, my mechanical wife,
I'm supposed to be cheerful and stoic.
I'm your old tried-and-true, Yankee Doodle to you,
Clean-cut, paralysed and heroic.


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