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56 days of basic training 56 days of breaking my back 56 days, man, it’s all behind me And I’ll be damned if I’ll be coming back No more circling the tents in forty-five seconds No more twenty pushups before getting my letters No more saying “Sir” after every sentence The sun is rising and my world is getting better There ain’t enough money to buy it Freedom is priceless Priceless It means just so much, so don’t try it Freedom is priceless Priceless The worst you can do is take it away It’s worth more than gold, even only a day, it’s Priceless Priceless Priceless 5 million copies of Born In The USA 5 million copies sold so far 5 million copies, man, what a record When I’m a free man, I’m also gonna be a star You don’t know just how much it means Freedom is priceless Priceless Without it I come apart at the seams Freedom is priceless Priceless You can give me the world but I won’t give it up Never ever ever give it up, ‘cause freedom is Priceless Priceless Priceless Three whole years of busting my tuchiss Three whole years of living under the gun Three whole years killing time in the army The struggle is all over now and I won! The feeling is so thick I could bite it Resistance is useless Useless I won’t even try to fight it Resistance is useless Useless I forgot what it’s like to have time on my hands It’s like a drugless high, my man, so resistance is Useless Useless Useless

©2023 The Hesh Inc.

"Freedom Is Priceless" graffiti generated with Graffwriter
There ain’t enough money to buy it / Freedom is priceless / Priceless.

Guard duty is the bane of military service, especially toward the beginning, when it's also a way to break in new recruits. I certainly put in my hours over the first two years of my three-year stint. You have to stay awake and alert and not get distracted, but you have to find ways to fight the tedium while doing so. One of the activities employed by soldiers in this position is to inscribe their sentry posts with all sorts of sayings, slogans, messages, and frustration-ventings. One slogan that caught my eye early on was "אין מחיר לחופש"—"there is no price for freedom" in Hebrew. I made it a bit snappier when translating it into English, and adopted it as my personal credo. Of course, its immediate meaning refers to the freedom one enjoys as a civilian, not infringed upon by the duties and responsibilities necessitated while serving in the military. But in the bigger picture, it is also about the freedom that such civilians enjoy, bought, paid for, and protected by those doing their service, whether mandatorily or voluntarily. I took to inscribing (i.e., graffiti-ing) the slogan everywhere I did guard duty, on the posts of gatehouses, observation towers, and ammo bunkers from the Golan Heights to the Negev wastes—in English, so everyone would know it was me. I even Sharpied it onto my shoulder unit tag, in the blank green area above the insignia, which is one of only two parts of the uniform where individual expression is tacitly permitted. This way, soldiers who had seen the slogan tagged on walls would be able to identify the tagger. I got no small amount of commentary, mostly from English-speaking soldiers, who were always happy to identify another one of their own in the wide, green sea of Hebrew and military slang. I even continued my practice after I was discharged, stopping once at the side of the Arava highway to form the words out of rocks on the small rise just off the shoulder.

This was one of my dozen or so basic-training anthems, fully composed and arranged in my head while I did my guard duty, with a hard-rock groove inspired by AC/DC's "Shake a Leg." Unfortunately I had no band during my army-service years and wasn't able to play it until years later, when I attempted to teach it to the band I had formed at the Jersey Shore. It didn't go as well as planned, and was dropped from the setlist in short order ... but it actually became the name of the band after we had struggled for awhile to figure out what to call ourselves. And this remained the name of band I played in for several years while living at the Shore, corresponding roughly to my college years.


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