We were at a local bar, dismissed from the debrief proceeding our latest mission. It had gone through without a hitch, "as planned," they had said. That didn't make it any easier for us.

The officers and senior, seasoned men and I all sat together, brooding over our drinks in dark silence. The rest of the patrons respected our privacy and kept clear and silent around us, even though I knew normally we would be a spectacle and the center of attention. A distraction in the form of a group of young, rookies who had been on the mission with us, rowdy and boisterous with their wonderful victory as they saw it, regaling the tale —leaving out specifics and details for obvious secrecy issues— playing it up to the growing crowd, helped leave us in peace. I took note with amusement that the main event of the night, Karaoke, had quickly been forgotten with the new distraction the rookies offered.

As he walked in late, my second, Daniels, snorted in disgust before he headed over to our table. I had a brandy on-the-rocks ready and waiting for him, having known it was his drink for moments like this. Not a word was said, the only movement to wave the bartender for another drink while we sat there in silence, each of us going through our memories of what we had just done.

Fed up, I stood, shot back the last of my whisky, and slammed my glass down on the table. The room quieted as the greenies stopped and looked to me, their commanding officer, while I slowly stepped away from the bar and walked up to the empty Karaoke stage. The boys, surprised at what I was doing and seeing another chance to be rowdy, started to hoot and holler encouragement when they figured out what I was up to. With a quick talk to the band, I told them what song I wanted to sing. The bar grew eerily silent in anticipation, as the surprising fact that I was a high-ranking commanding officer, had been broadcast to everyone thanks to the slightly inebriated rookies.

Using a singing voice very few knew I possessed, I recalled the various missions, the people we had killed, and the families we had torn apart, all in the name of the greater good, then sang; I sang out my guilt, my shame. I sang my heart out for the first time since I dropped my music to start my long military career.

He said, "Son, have you seen the world?

Well, what would you say if I said that you could?

Just carry this gun, you'll even get paid"

I said, "That sounds pretty good"

Black leather boots, spit shined so bright

They cut off my hair but it looks alright

We marched and we sang

We all became friends as we learned how to fight

A hero of war, yeah that's what I'll be

And when I come home, they'll be damn proud of me

I'll carry this flag to the grave if I must

'Cause it's a flag that I love and a flag that I trust

I kicked in the door, I yelled my commands

The children they cried, but I got my man

We took him away, a bag over his face

From his family and his friends

They took off his cloths, they pissed in his hands

I told them to stop, but then I joined in

We beat him with guns and batons

Not just once but again and again

A hero of war, yeah that's what I'll be

And when I come home, they'll be damn proud of me

I'll carry this flag to the grace if I must

'Cause it's a flag that I love and a flag that I trust

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

And the shells jumped, through the smoke

And into the sand, that the blood now had soaked

She collapsed, with a flag in her hand

A flag white as snow

A hero of war, is that what they see

Just medals and scars, so damn proud of me

And I brought home that flag, now it gathers dust

Bit it's a flag that I love, it's the only flag I trust

He said, "Son, have you seen the world?

Well, what would you say if I said that you could?"

As the last notes rang out, I looked over the silent bar, and everyone stared back. My gaze rested on the once rowdy group of boys. My message had been loud and clear. Without a word I stepped off the stage and headed for the door, my officers and the senior men followed just as silent.

The bar stayed quiet for the rest of the night. The once proud boys quietly left not much later.