Archive for Monday, February 24, 2014

Musing from the Hill/Feb. 27

February 24, 2014

Pete Seeger, who recently died, used his songs as weapons. We will never forget “Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing: When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?” He wrote this song as a protest against the Vietnam War.

The French, who came to our rescue in the Revolutionary War, warned us against going into Vietnam. They had fought there in vain and told us it was a lost cause. The Vietnam War tore our country asunder. It was a disaster: many were killed and wounded, and it cost millions of dollars. When our veterans returned they were not greeted as heroes and felt they had suffered in vain.

The Korean War was fought first. Veterans and their families are still suffering from the effects of that war. Songs from the Korean War I do not believe are as well known. However, protests against the Korean War are still with us today. I have been watching re-runs of "MASH" on TV. I am amazed by the anti-war lines in the dialogue. Instead of using songs as weapons, the show uses dialogue.

I remember when the movie "MASH" came to the GEM Theatre in Baldwin. (We used to call it The Germ.) No seats were available when we arrived. Our entire family sat on the floor along the wall by the last row of seats. We were impressed by the movie. The re-run series on TV contains many anti-war comments.

Songs have long been associated with war. The Revolutionary War produced “Yankee Doodle Dandy." This song, originated by the British to make fun of Americans, became a rallying song for our troops. In England,”macaroni” was a member of a class of young Englishmen who affected foreign mannerisms. “Macaroni” came to be thought of as a silly person. The Yanks turned the line into that of a soldier, a proud fighter for his country.

Then came World War I, and the English were happy that “the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming and they won’t be back till its over Over-There.” Yank and Yankee were honored in a song they had made their own.

From the Virginia Gazette, Jan. 12, 1775, another long lost doggerel: ”In spite of Gage’s flaming sword and Carleton’s Canadian troop, George Washington shall give the word, and we’ll make them howl and whoop.”

We are once again engaged in a terrible conflict, Over There! “When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?” Now who will step forward to use weapons of song and dialogue to speak out against foreign engagements?

Long ago, two of our great presidents, both of them also army Generals, addressed this. President George Washington said we should beware of foreign entanglements. President Eisenhower said we should beware of the military establishment.

Honor and help our veterans. “When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?” Pete Seeger.


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