Hero Of War

Album: Appeal to Reason (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • This song was inspired by the 2006 documentary The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends, which focuses on soldiers' Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning home from war. The song tells the story of a guy who enlists in the military, figuring he'll be celebrated as a war hero after he does his duty. He ends up fighting overseas under horrific conditions, and ends up torturing a prisoner and killing a civilian under duress.

    When the video was released, Rise Against issued this statement:

    "'Hero Of War' is the story of one soldier, not all soldiers, as he battles not just the war around him, but the war that rages within. Inspired by true events, we were given the choice to either document the tribulations of these times as they unfold around us, or ignore them.

    To ignore these problems, in our opinion, is letting down the brave men and women who risk everything. 'Hero Of War' is our attempt to lift the stigma that surrounds everything from the skyrocketing suicide rate of troops, torture, internal sexual abuse, an under-funded VA, and the growing number of military personnel fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as they return home."
  • This wasn't released as a single, but it's one of Rise Against's most popular songs and got a music video to go with it. The video was directed by Meiert Avis, Jason Lehel and Chris Ledoux; it shows the soldier's journey from recruitment to the horrors of war.

    McIlrath told Billboard magazine why the band made a video even though the song wasn't released as an official single. He explained: "I think this is such an important song in our band's career. In a world that really tends to only listen to the singles and only skims (albums) this one hasn't seen enough of the light of day, but I just thought this is a story that needs to be told. So we're hoping that by doing a video it will bring some more attention, even if it's not an official single."
  • Rise Against guitarist Zach Blair, who joined the band for the Appeal To Reason album, told Ultimate-Guitar about this multi-layered acoustic guitar song: "That was a song Tim (McIlrath, frontman) had in the studio and it was one of those things that was like it was his baby; it was his whole thing. It's a brilliant song and it might raise a few eyebrows but I stand behind it a hundred percent. It will be when we do it live; when we do a lot of radio and we're promoting the record, Tim and I do a lot of the acoustic songs. It first it was gonna be real bare bones, just one acoustic guitar line, but they started adding more things on to it. Such is the case: This band gets real layered sometimes and it's always best to layer a lot and take away afterwards. Yeah, that one got real layered; it was always just Tim sittin' there by himself just goin' for it."

Comments: 18

  • Ziem86 from FranceIt is an anti-war song. But being anti-war doesn't mean being anti-military, and even being anti-military doesn't mean being anti the men and women serving under it. And I believe this song is very much about that : military men and women are human. They have a soul, a heart, an history, they have principles, orders, and they are fallible like any other human. At the end of the day, most of them are more damaged by the war, than the damage they actually or allegedly cause themselves, or as a group. It's a beautiful song, full of meaning and love, and respect. I'm glad I heard that song in my life.
  • Ben from DetroitIraq war vet. I cried at the last verse. Also noticed the upside down flag as the soldier was in distress. Until I looked it up, I honestly thought the song writer was an actual vet himself.
  • Bob from Merced, CaThis is a song about war - every war that has taken place between whenever and now, where they sent young men into battle to kill and see their friends die. I will not look with scorn at boys who have in war committed such atrocities. War is hell and a state of humanity that I hope my children will never have to witness.
  • Walter from Morrisville, NyIf you ever truly listen to this song it will probably make you cry if you have been in the service.
  • Andrew from Elizabeth, NjThe song is awesome... except for the fact that they portray all soldiers as war criminals. That is absolutely not the case. US soldiers do what they are told and they are only told to capture/kill people who pose a threat to them, our country, or our country's intrests. Portraying a US soldier as someone who will brutally attack an innocent civilian in his home is horrible.
  • Josh from Trenton, Ilreally opens your eyes on the soldiers perspective. He comes home a hero, but he knows in his mind hes not, hes just another man that had to do his job.
  • Kayla from El Paso, Txthis song is a sad song but is so moving sometimes its true that the soldiers right did that in war but i thank them for going out there and fight for us so thank you to all the soldiers out there
  • Sonu from Temecula, Ca..such a good song..but at the same time, its really depressing
  • Oliver from Atlanta, GaThis is an amazing, moving, and sad song
  • Shane from Valrico, FlAs I have been to Iraq twice I can understand and appreciate what this song says. It's not an anti-war song. The song is meant to depict what military personell have been and do go through and what we have to live with after the fact. It is a PTSD based song and shows and tells the horrors that service members who have actually seen combat go through. Most military do not want to go out and kill and thats what the deal is with the backwards flag is to show that he himself is in distress with the whole thing.
  • Andy from Tustin, MiI think this song is about the experince of combat. Its abouta man who joined the army cause he feels he needs to defend his country and it will make people proud of him. He is sent out to iraq and as it progresses he meats a women who he realy likes who tries to surrender and he knows the insurgens will kill her and he dosent want her to die but knows she will so he fells he needs to be the one to do it. Those are just my thoughts.
  • Mike from Quakertown, PaEven if the flag upside down isn't a sign of protest, the song is still a protest against war. This is a anti-war song. It's talking about how soldiers come home with PTSD, and it's a sarcastic tone towards war and the military.
  • Kevinthedonkey from Philadelphia, AndorraSomeone made a statement earlier about at 2 min 30 sec when the flag is flown upside down.
    This is a sign of distress. Be it the flag is flown upside down from a pole or on their wall, or if us soldiers turn it upside down on our arms, all it means is a sign of distress. It is not a form of protest whatsoever.
  • Alec from Chicago, IlCorrection: the post would actually be down instead of above lol.

    Also, there seems to be a battle going on in which he fights to stay patriotic, if you will, and the breaking point is actually when the woman drops the white flag.

    I'm over-thinking this (I think HA) because it's pretty obvious since the chorus changes but I'm still glad I pointed it out for people to notice. This song is so much like a poem it's crasi.
  • Alec from Chicago, IlAlso to portray the 'tongue-in-cheek protest tone' as written about above, at the end of the song he changes 'the only flag he trusts' from the American flag to the white flag (symbolizing peace) after he kills the woman carrying it.

    I guess you really have to get into the 'story line' of the song to pick this up haha.

    This is obviously sort of debatable but it seems to make sense to me. Great song!
  • Dan from Allen Park, Mi2 minutes and thirty three seconds into the music video of this song a soldier is shown doing pull-ups, with an upside down flag on the wall to his left, this is a symbol to portray the almost tounge-in-cheek protest tone of this song.
  • Fernando from Porterville, CaThis is truly amazing
  • Riley from Saskatoon, Skthis song is awesome!!!
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