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In the spring of 1997, 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez was tending the family goat heard in Redford, Texas, never the Mexican border. He carried an antique single shot .22 rifle that he used to protect the herd from predators.

In the early morning hours, Hernandez was shot in the back by heavily camouflaged U.S. Marines on anti-drug operations. Esequiel lay bleeding to death on the ground for 2 minutes, unattended, while the soldiers debated what to do. No charges were ever filed, the United States government has refused to admit any wrongdoing, and in fact has not even apologized to the Hernandez family for the murder of their son, an innocent victim of the war on drugs.

Esequiel Hernandez was the first U.S. citizen killed by military troops on U.S. soil since 1970, when four unarmed students were killed by National Guard soldiers at Kent State University during a Vietnam War protest.

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez

I dreamed I heard the wind
Blowing through the Redford hills
Heavy Texas raindrops
Running down the dusty rills
A herd of goats was grazing
Like they did in Grandpa's day
With Esequiel Hernandez
To guide them on their way

Tenderly he guards them
In the hours before the dawn
Dreaming dreams that young men dream
When they are alone
Suddenly alerted
He listens, what's that sound?
Raises his gun to drop coyote
But a soldier cuts him down

American, eighteen
Committer of no crime
Yet bullets of Marines
Made a martyr of our time
Remember him, you leaders
With your words both fine and brave
Remember Esequiel Hernandez
Who lies buried in his grave;
Remember Esequiel Hernandez
Whom ye buried in his gave

Copyright © 1999, Jack J. Woehr
All rights reserved

(Jack Woehr, a resident of Golden, Colorado, has twice run for elected office,
both as a state assemblyman and a U.A. congressman)

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