The Killing Floor (Audio Version)

On April 18, 2012, I posted The Killing Floor, in which I described my encounter with a soldier who had written a song about his experiences in Iraq.  Since that day, the post has had, as of this writing, 889 hits.  The soldier’s words are direct, vivid–and tough.  Few have been able to read them without experiencing their power quite strongly.

Two days ago, this soldier sent me a copy of the audio of the song, and I gladly agreed to share it on the blog.  I have added it to the original blog, but given how many people have already found his written words so moving, I wanted to make sure that all would have an equal chance to hear them as they were meant to be heard.

If you thought you were affected by the words in print, then prepare yourself.  We’re moving to a whole other level.

In his truly amazing book, On Killing, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman writes the following:

“I [once] discussed some of the psychological theories concerning the trauma of combat with one crusty old segeant.  He laughed scornfully and said, ‘Those bastards don’t know anything about it.  They’re like a world of virgins studying sex, and they got nothing to go on but porno movies.  And it is just like sex, ’cause the people who really do it just don’t talk about it.’

” . . . Killing is a private, intimate occurrence of tremendous intensity, in which the destructive act becomes psychologically very much like the procreative act.  For those who have never experienced it, the depiction of battle that Hollywood has given us, and the cultural mythology that Hollywood is based upon, appear to be about as useful in understanding killing as pornograhic movies would be in trying to understand the intimacy of a sexual relationship.  A virgin observer might get the mechanics of sex right by watching an X-rated movie, but he or she could never hope to understand the intimcacy and intensity of the procreative experience.”  (emphasis in original)

This soldier understands Grossman down to his bones.  When you hear the song, you will know what I mean.

In re-posting the song, I do so for all the men who are in the spirituality group that I attend with the Chaplain here at our VA.  In just the few weeks I have come to know these men (including the writer of this song), I have been deeply moved by their honesty, their willingness to speak whatever truth they need to speak, their nearly-palpable desire to find meaning again in this world.  It is an honor to be part of their lives, and I have come to care deeply about each of them.  So in their honor–and in honor of those whom they loved, but could not bring back with them–I present you again:

The Killing Floor

Driving through the sand
In an 1114,
My men and I are true killing machines,
50 cal and a Mark 19.
We can take out anything.

Death is near,
I can feel it in my bones.
Contact right, coming over my headphones.
I look to the right, and what do I see?
I see this Iraqi man staring right back at me.
He raised his weapon, I had to blow him away.

I still think about him every day.

Was he a father, or was he a son?
I wonder if he’d ever even held a gun.

What are we fighting this war for?
It’s a one-man show on the killing floor.
The killing floor is what you need.
The killing floor is what you believe.

Have you ever heard a mother’s cry?
Have you ever seen a father’s tear?
Who are we kidding,
We’re killing children here.

Have you ever seen that father’s tear?
Or have you ever heard that mother’s cry?
That will tear you up from within.
Then I look at the killing floor again.

Beauty is within the selfless sacrifice.
Have you ever seen a dead soldier’s eyes?

What are we fighting this war for?
It’s a one-man show on the killing floor.
The killing floor is what you need.
The killing floor is what you believe.

5 responses

    • Johann,

      I most definitely will. And feel free to spread the word about the song. He writes straight from his gut, by way of his heart, and he sure sings that way too, doesn’t he? He’s very committed to putting into song the experiences of the average soldier/Marine who had to “go beyond the wire” and face all that had to be faced. As I said in the earlier post, he’s a good man, and I know he will appreciate your encouragement.

    • Angela,

      So sorry about that. I’m afraid I’m not enough of a techno-superstar to be too helpful. Try both the posts, i.e., “The Killing Floor” and “The Killing Floor (Audio).” Each one has a link (it’s the title in the middle of the post for the original post). What usually happens is that the link will open Quicktime (or whatever player you use) in another window and play. If neither works for you, e-mail me at, and I’ll send the file to you directly.

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