I am owning my pathetic self, that still sees hope in a ravaged, violent world. I am loving my pathetic self for my nostalgia of the “good times” of my past, as I listen to music of the Summer of Love and Woodstock. Why? There was something magical and open and free about that time in US history. 42 years ago today, my boyfriend and I found ourselves in a huge open farm meadow with half a million other kids for three days of peace, love and music. We had no hint that our parents were home horrified and worried sick to see the news of the festival on TV. We were happily oblivious as we looked for friends we knew were there but never found, made new friends we would never see again, listened to music as the sun rose, content to be in the moment with no worries. It was so peaceful.
I am happy to have this memory because it lights me up and gives me hope. It is possible for us to be a peaceful people. Even with the violent murders of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, and Sen. Bobby Kennedy, I believed we could be peaceful. Even with the violence of the civil rights movement, I still believed we could be peaceful. Didn’t Woodstock prove it?
My hope continued. Another sign that we could be a peaceful people. The first moratorium to end the war in Vietnam occurred on my 18th birthday just two months after Woodstock. The second, larger, nationwide moratorium took place exactly a month after that, on November 15, 1969. I went to Washington, DC; I purchased a one-way shuttle flight from NYC, no idea how I would get back. (I hitchhiked!) I was going to make a difference marching with other “kids” in front of The White House. We were going to end the draft, end the war in Vietnam. We were going to make a difference. It was peaceful. Though these acts of demonstration would later become more violent (Kent State comes to mind, May, 1970, when unarmed students were shot by the National Guard as they peacefully protested the planned invasion of Cambodia, kids all), I still maintained hope that it would all make a difference.
What’s different now? What “difference” are we making now? Why is it that so few say so little about the war? Yes, I know it’s winding down, coming to its sad, pitiful end. The one thing we DID learn from Vietnam was to NOT institute a draft. My opinion? If there had been a draft of men and women (kids) over 18 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wars would have ended long ago. “Kids” would be paying attention and saying NO with peaceful demonstrations on college campuses. Their parents would be saying NO.
I will keep my pathetic, hopeful self intact. I will pray and hope and trust that the wisdom, desperation, resignation or just-plain-economic-sense, that is finally bringing our military home from the atrocities and stupidity of war, will keep us from getting involved again in any unjust military action. (Can you imagine what today’s young men and women could have done to rebuild this country if we had used our human resources differently? What they still could do, if we looked at “service” in the broader sense? But that’s another story…)
I will visit with my nostalgic self and enjoy my memories of when I dreamed about being a part of the Summer of Love in 1967 (living in NY and not ready to run away to San Francisco) and actually being at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and part the peaceful demonstrations to end the war that followed in the Fall. I will keep that hope alive that blossomed so long ago, as pathetic as it may be.
Our military “kids” will have a lot of healing to do, the ones who are home already need us.
I will keep my pathetic, hopeful self intact and pray that this time we won’t forget the lessons we are learning today. I will continue to believe that we can be a peaceful people.