In November 2019, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was there to provide information he knew as the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert.
In short, he was listening in on the July 2019 phone call President Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the one where Trump asked for “a favor.”
That phrasing by Trump is what triggered the inquiry that led to the eventual impeachment of President Trump on December 18, 2019.
Vindman testified that he was “concerned” by the call and that he “did not think it was appropriate to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen” because it would “undermine U.S. national security.”
During his testimony, he was asked why he felt confident that he could testify, he said: “Congressman, because this is America. This is a country I have served and defended, that all of my brothers have served, and here, right matters.”
Shortly after this testimony, Vindman was fired by Trump and removed from the NSC. Trump also fired Vindman’s brother, who also worked at the NSC.
In the summer of 2020, Vindman was up for promotion to colonel, and Senator Duckworth demanded that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirm in writing that the Trump administration would not block Vindman’s promotion or she would hold up the promotions of 1,000 other officers.
In response, Vindman announced his retirement.
Having served as an officer in the navy reserve myself, this story struck me. He was a second-generation American, who joined the army, fought in combat, and served, seemingly, with distinction and honor. When compelled to testify because of a subpoena, he answered questions honestly and was fired for doing so. Then, putting others before himself, he retired rather than receiving a promotion he duly deserved.
So I decided to write a song…
The lyrics came quite easily, as I used the reports I link above to write the song
Purple heart, ranger tab, combat vet with a CIB (combat infantryman badge)
Never a problem, never a pest, just a lite colonel with a Harvard degree
And then the bridge:
Sacked himself so the others move on…no regrets just a new day’s dawn
And the chorus:
You know we gotta fight back, this time
Rise on up and take back what’s right
In America, what’s right matters
Unless you’re on the wrong side of the right
The last line stuck with me. It was clear that Vindman’s testimony was a partisan affair, but it was clear to me that he was just doing his job. He spoke “truth to power” and did it confidently and clearly.
To him (and me) right matters, unless you were a Republican on the committee, and therefore “on the right side of the right.”
Then I wrote the second set of verse lyrics:
Job on the line with his Class As on and he answers you as you look to Don
Hoping he sees you grill the guy who speaks his truth but it does no use
When I was composing the guitar, bass, and drum tracks, I wanted to emulate a military marching cadence, so I developed a guitar riff that matched that rhythm and style. The introduction of the song builds and gets slightly faster and even more punchy.
I decided to add a guitar solo before the transition to the first set of lyrics, and I had my engineer, Ben Schwartz, add a solo at the end of the song providing a bookend guitar riff.
I’m proud of the song, and consider it my minor tribute to LTC Vindman for his bravery, courage, and ultimate sacrifice.
You can listen on the: