Rise Against is known for their political agenda, one that they portray through punk music. From animal cruelty to rocking out against President Bush, rise against sends strong and influential political messages in almost 99% of their music. This is not the case with their song Hero of War from the Appeal to reason album. Which was released in 2009 after a bloody year of fighting in Afghanistan. Unlike most Pro or anti war music from the 1970’s and into the more recent conflicts of today, Rise Against seems to not be taking a political stance in the song Hero of War.
During an interview by Music Talks, Tim Mcllrath offers the interviewer and the listeners the motivation behind Hero of War. Tim explains, that he felt like the problems at home (United States) and abroad, were not being talked about fully in any mainstream form of media. Tim would read and watch the information being released by media outlets, but at the same time he was receiving letters from fans who were military members, and who had fought in the oif/oef conflicts. Tim says “ The information I was gathering from the media was so skewed, and the letters that these soldiers wrote me where shocking and told a different story. I wondered why we were being shielded from the truth of what was really taking place in these Wars.’
Tim gained a majority of his insight for Hero Of War by watching the documentary tilted The Ground Truth. The stories that were being told matched the information he was gathering through letters from soldiers. Tim used the letters and the information gained from the documentary to create his work of art. He uses the song Hero of War, not to make a political stand, but instead Tim uses Hero of War to tell the stories of the men and women who were asked to fight these wars. The song reflects actual accounts of battle and how the men felt after the fact. What I really like about this song is. Rise Against made it in a way that anyone can listen to it and grasp the stories being told. The emotion in Tim’s voice throughout the song pulls the listener in and helps them feel the emotional toll that war can have on soldiers who fight in them. The underlining message in Hero of War is how the men and women suffer and battle within themselves from individual traumatic events during deployment.
They also address carrying these events with them after returning home, the song creates a chronological picture of a soldier entering the recruitment office, going through basic training and eventually fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Through out the song the tone changes, showing the emotional change within the soldier. Once a high-speed individual the war slowly starts to change the soldier into a more confused and guilt-ridden man. This takes full effect after Tim sings this line. “She walked through bullets and haze I asked her to stop, I begged her to stay, but she pressed on. So I lifted my gun, and I fired away. The shells jumped through the smoke and into the ground that the blood now had soaked. She collapsed with a flag in her hand, a flag white as snow”. This is the turning point for the soldier and he asks, “a hero of war is that what they see? Just medals and scars, so damn proud of me. I brought home that flag, now it gathers dust, but it’s the flag that I love, it’s the only flag that I trust.”
References- YouTube/MusicTalks interview with Rise Aagainst