Words and music by Sarah Pirtle,
© 2006 Discovery Center Music, BMI
Dedicated to Veterans Education Project,
Veterans for Peace, Gold Star Parents for Peace,
the Veteran’s Sangha, and all people recovering
1. I have walked five miles today.
When the nightmares strike, I get out of the way.
I go out to the farmland. Lots of sky and ground.
Memories shatter like a windowpane
and cover my dreams like a cigarette stain.
It’s easy to see the war’s still holding on
Refrain: But I take another step. Take another step.
Take another step. Take another step.
2. I finally found buddies who help me feel better.
Deep down our souls are tough as leather.
I like to think we got denim hearts.
When I first came back, I couldn’t go downtown.
Any loud sound, and I nearly hit the ground.
No one to turn to, so I kept apart.
I just take another step. Take another step.
3. I’ll tell you the day I found my friends.
I was dangling there at the bitter end.
I went downtown and things got hot.
I heard a backfire of a truck,
I began to yell-- “Everybody duck!”
I stood there shaking right in the parking lot.
Another vet came over, saw the panic rise.
Held my shoulder and met my eyes.
And I could take another step. Take another step.
Bridge: They don’t hand me hope like it’s something up high
stuck on a string, lost in the sky.
We have hope that’s there on the ground.
It says, pull up a chair, come on, sit down.
4. My friends and I when we get together.
We face into the stormy weather.
You know, there is wisdom in the wounds.
When I listen to them, and they listen to me.
We’re figuring out our own bravery.
Like an old guitar getting back in tune.
I just take another step, take another step,
I just take another step, take another step...take another step.
Martin Luther King said about the Vietnam War, “The war in Vietnam is but a sympton of a far deeper malady within the American spirit....The bombs in Vietnam explode at home: they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” Those words were quoted in the newsletter of Veterans for Peace. In the writing of this song, I became an associate member of that organization.
At a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh I heard members of the Veteran’s Sangha read their poetry, and it was unforgettable. A month later I heard members of Gold Star Families for Peace and the Wally Nelson Chapter of Veterans for Peace speak as part of the Bring Them Home Now Tour. I worked for several months trying to create a song that honored these veterans that I’d met. Thanks go to Eric Waseleski, leader of the Wally Nelson Chapter, and Susan Leary, director of Veterans Education Project, who helped give feedback.
Veterans for Peace can be reached at www.vfp.org. In 1983 I helped start the very first meetings of Veterans Education Project in western Massachusetts while working as Peace Education Coordinator at Traprock Peace Center. For over twenty years VEP has grown stronger and more extensive. Veterans share their stories, often speaking in high schools to counteract recruiters’ misinformation. This song is meant to honor the members and supporters of all these groups. It also honors all the people who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Finding “wisdom in the wounds” is an insight that veterans and others recovering from traumatic experiences have discovered and articulated. Dr. Judith Herman in her book, Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence--from domestic abuse to political terror, writes, “The fundamental stages of recovery are establishing safety, reconstructing the trauma story, and restoring the connection between survivors and their community.”
How can the wider community communicate respect for people who are rebuilding the construction of the self that is shattered by violence?