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I’m dedicating this release of When the Walls Came Down to hero Rick Rescorla.


Rescorla, who retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel, earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart for his service in the Vietnam War, including his efforts as a second lieutenant in the battle of Ia Drang in 1965, where more than 200 of his fellow soldiers died. A photo of Rescorla became emblematic of the war after it was used on the cover of the bestselling We Were Soldiers Once… and Young by war correspondent Joe Galloway and Lt. Gen. Harold Moore.


In 2019, Rescorla received the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously for his bravery in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Rescorla, who was then head of security for Morgan Stanley, made multiple trips through the stairwells leading building occupants to safety before dying himself in that effort when the towers finally came down. Then 62 years old, he was largely responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Morgan Stanley employees—all but 7—then in the building, and likely many others who followed through the stairwells.


As a native of Cornwall, England, before coming to America, Rescorla was known for singing Cornish and Welsh battle songs, as well as ribald songs, in dire moments to help boost the spirits of those around him. He reportedly sang both in Vietnam and in the Twin Towers on the day of his death while saving so many people.


After 9/11, I woke up from a dream that I was falling through the sky, praying all the way down to earth. This dream was probably prompted by the images of the attack on the World Trade Center towers as people jumped from the flames, which I watched over and over. I had been working on songs from my Vietnam experiences for an album to be called Meet Me In Vietnam. It ultimately became a collection of 31 songs released in 2003. I decided I needed to write a song about the walls that came down and the people who flew through the air to earth as the walls fell.


I got on a plane, went to New York City, and sat as close as I could to what was left of the World Trade Center. That’s where I wrote the song.  I named it “The Walls Came Down.”


When I recorded it, my producer and I added a requiem right after the song. To respect the meaning of the lyrics and sensitivity to survivors who would hear it, I felt we needed to have strings as the primary instrument. I contacted the Seattle Symphony and hired the full string section to play both the song and the requiem.


In addition to this single, The Walls Came Down and the Requiem are songs 16 and 17 on my album Meet Me In Vietnam, which is available on spotify and iTunes as well as through this site's contact information.


When the Walls Came Down

©2019 music and words by John R. Black, ℗42nd Street Music Seattle


I remember the beginning

Now I see the end

Just one more message

That I want to send

Mary give me mercy

Hear the trumpets sound

I went with the angels 

When the walls came down



The walls came down

The walls came down

I was there, I was there

When the walls came down

Smoke filled the sky

Angels touched the ground

There I died

When the walls came down


Meadowlark’s calling

I heard the lonely cry

Sending a warning

That it’s time to fly

Put steel in my heart

Fire in my soul

Give me some courage

It’s time to let go


I felt my body

Falling through the sky

Asking you Jesus

Is it time to die?

Could you raise me up?

Could you save me today?

Will you forgive me?

Was the prayer I prayed



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