“Hero of War” by Rise Against chronicles the journey of a young man who joins the army and begins to see what war is really like. From his naive beginnings, the events he sees alter his personality until he does unthinkable things that change him forever.
Given few other chances, the you man decides he should join the army because of a few perks he thinks he will get out of it. War doesn’t seem that bade of an option, getting paid and getting to travel the world would be well worth just carrying a gun. The realities of war were slow to set in and the first tribulations were easily passed on without much thought. Getting your haircut and having to spit shine shoes really aren’t that bad. Music is very mellow at the beginning to show how there conflict here and the men are just adjusting to this new environment. The chorus serves as an internal question that the protagonist continually asks himself, “how will others see me?”At first he wants others to see him as this “hero” and that anything he would have to do would be worth it if he was seen as a hero upon return.
With the second verse comes the first big challenge for our hero, the true colors of war are revealed. Upon capturing a supposed terrorist, the soldiers take the man from his village and begin to torture him. This unsettles our hero and disgusts him to where he attempts to make the beatings stop. The new soldier cannot stop the others and their actions change him to the point that he joins in the beating as well. Emotion finally starts to show in the pronunciation of words like “kicked” and “pissed,” these violent action verbs start to reveal the frustration and fire as it comes through the hero’s actions. When the chorus plays this time there is a marked difference in how the words are sang. He still feels he is going to be a hero, but now he starts to realize there is a difference in being a hero here and being a hero back home. His values were really going to have to change if he was going to be a hero here in this lawless land.
A climax is reached in the story in the third verse as the soldier’s final transformation occurs. Met with a huge dilemma he has to weigh his values against his orders and come up with a decision. While guarding a restricted area, a girl begins to approach this area waiving her white Israeli flag. He must come up with a decision; does he let this girl go on into an area he is protecting with unknown intentions, or does he follow orders and kill this seemingly innocent girl? His shells fell to the dirt and the girl’s blood turned the sand red with only her white flag left pure. This series of events has forever corrupted our hero and he knows he will never be the same. Our chorus now returns with more emotion than ever and an added line to show the added weight that he now carries. His frustration is paramount when he screams, “Just medals and scars, so damn proud of me.” No will will ever know the events that he has seen, but everyone else can see he is a hero because of the medals he now carries. These medals and scars hide the effects of the events that transpired and scarred his metal psyche. He then realizes at the end that maybe war isn’t worth getting to see the world and that the world is a darker place than he once thought.
From an optimistic outlook to being scarred from the events of war, “Hero of War” shows the audience how a soldier can change when put through these horrors.
Music Provided By: Rise Against “Hero of War”
Video Provided By: youtube Hero of War
Word Count: 662