The Death of Rachel Corrie

When she sat down in the dirt
In front of your machine
A lovely woman dressed in orange
You in military green
If you had met her in Jerusalem
You might have asked her on a date
But here you were in Gaza
Rolling towards the gate

As your foot went to the floor
Did you recall her eyes
Did her gaze remind you
That you’ve become what you despise
As you rolled on towards this woman
And ignored all the shouts to stop
Did you feel a shred of doubt
As you watched her body drop

And as your Caterpillar tracks
Upon her body pressed
With twenty tons of deadly force
Crushed the bones within her chest
Could you feel the contours of her face
As you took her life away
Did you serve your country well
On that cool spring day

And when you went back across the Green Line
Back to the open shore
Did you think that this was just another day
In a dirty war
And when you looked out on the water
Did you feel an empty void
Or was it just one more life you’ve taken
One more home destroyed

Sheet music to this song may be found in Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

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“The Death of Rachel Corrie” originally appeared on the 2003 CD, The Return.  It later also appeared on Waiting for the Fall — a Retrospective (CD, 2010) and Falasteen, Habibti (CD, 2014).

Rachel Corrie went to Palestine with ISM — the International Solidarity Movement.  She was killed by an Israeli soldier in an armored Caterpillar bulldozer, trying to protect the home of a Palestinian doctor and his family in the village of Rafah on the Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border.  Her name had already come to my attention repeatedly, as I was an avid reader of the ISM email list.  I had noticed Rachel’s eloquence as a writer, and was actively looking for her name in emails I’d get from ISM.  Then I got the news that this ISM activist whose reports I had been reading had been killed.  After I posted the lyrics to this song online somewhere, I got a call from an ISM activist on the West Bank, asking about using the lyrics for something or other.  I was driving in Olympia, Washington that day, on my way to do a gig at Evergreen State College, to a sizable but very somber audience.  The US would launch its invasion of Iraq 2 or 3 days later.

Since Rachel died I have performed at many events where her parents, Craig and Cindy, have been featured speakers.  We all appeared on Democracy Now! together sometime not long after Rachel’s death.