Rather than targeting one individual, Howard Bellamy wrote this song as a paean to the generation defined by a mandatory draft into the war in Vietnam, and the aftereffects visited upon those who were lucky enough to make it back home. In a Songfacts interview with Bellamy
, he said: "It was a specific generation, I think, more so than a person. There were several people we knew like that over the years. Our generation. I think that was why it was such a big song. That generation really identified with that record, because it was right in the Boomer generation that happened."