Crammed into a subway car on the way to work, earbuds in, singer is singing:
“Oh my word it’s a holy war/ Kids get burned on the killing floor.”
There’s a boy sitting in front of me, maybe ten years old. He takes two toy soldiers out of his camouflaged backpack, starts playing with them.
“Captain, captain my aim is true/ Shot those men like you told me to.”
The toy soldiers raise their rifles and engage the battle, jumping over imaginary land mines, ducking silent, unseen sniper fire. The soldiers are plastic, expressionless, but there's excitement in the boy’s face, adrenaline ignites his eyes.
“But I don’t know what I’m fighting for/And I don’t know what to feel no more.”
My mind starts racing, wondering about the boy. Is he a military brat? Is his parent dead? Is that why he’s riding the train by himself? Would that kind of loss make a boy want to fight more or less? Does it honor the memory of the fallen to follow the same path? Or to diverge from it, to try at all cost to stay alive?
“All my love has long since gone/It’s only fear when the night comes on.”
Is it child’s play? A solitary boy, incongruously surrounded by adults on a rush hour train, enjoying a moment of abandon before school?
“I don’t know what I’m crying for/And I don’t know what to feel no more.”
Or a look ahead to the boy’s future, to all of ours, to a war not yet conceived?
Lyrics from “Holy War” by Anthony D’Amato.