Monday, November 15, 2010

War songs

Last Thursday was Veterans Day and as usual I was listening to our local NPR radio station while driving home. They were doing a story on war songs of the Viet Nam era, which I am able to say that I was a part of. When I left college it was a time of high draft levels, so rather than wait to be called up as a mud pounder I followed family tradition and joined the Navy. I worked repairing airplanes, and while I was there our squadron was assigned to both a Mediterranean cruise on the Saratoga and a WestPac on the Ranger, both aircraft carriers. I joined the Navy because you always have a dry bed and a hot meal, much better from my point of view than the options of the Marines or Army, who have to put up with whatever is available wherever they are. I didn’t fly, but a few of our pilots were shot down over Viet Nam, and we did lose some other squadron members from things that happen on board and close to the ship.
The NPR war song story is there, and the song they discussed as being the first commercially big song was Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction

Some of the videos on it have been updated to cover the Middle East conflicts, so it is still appropriate. One I remember a lot was by Country Joe and the Fish – 123- what are we fighting for?

There were songs that supported the other side; Sgt. Barry Sadler did one that prompted a John Wayne movie

The story said that most people remember War by Edwin Starr

I served, and sorry, but I have to agree with the main subject there: what is it good for? I know there are times that you have to stand up, but there are also times you have to let things slide, either as an individual or a nation. Sorry, I lost friends and didn’t see any gain, any threat to our national security, or any positives out of that.

When I got out of the Navy I ended up back at college in upstate New York, and became friends with a girl that attended Kent State during an interesting time. Fannie was feisty and did not constrain herself when presented with something that she didn’t like. We drove out to Ohio one long weekend for her to show me around the campus, and she showed me where she was standing on the library deck, and pointed out bullet holes in the sculpture nearby. If she hadn’t said she was so far away I would be willing to believe that she was one of those throwing stones that supposedly started it all.

I wasn’t around for that one, I was floating on a big boat. But a lot of us were singing “1 – 2 – 3- “


Don said...

I'm with you Joe. There is a huge difference between WWII and something like Vietnam or our current wars. There is a quote about war being too important to be left to the generals; I sure wish Mr. Obama would stop listening to them.

I spent 2 years in the Army during Vietnam but never left the states. You never know what's going to happen.

Colleen Barnett said...

It's a sad world we live in, where wars even have to exist. We had Rememberence Day here, where we remember all our fallen service men. It is a very solemn occasion, when we observe a minute's silence, and they play The Last Post.

I once went to an Anzac Day dawn service Anzac, if you don't know, is Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and each year on 25th April we remember all our old diggers from WW1 and WW11. At this service, it was dark, and suddenly there were choppers overhead. You didn't hear them coming and you could only see a single red light. They hovered for a few minutes then left. It was really creepy.

Makes you proud of our servicemen and women, and yet wonder why we are bound to need them.

Rob said...

Visiting Kent State must have been weird: a bit like Tiananmen Square I would think (not in scale of course).

There's a terrific book "Kent State: What Happened And Why" by James Michener. Well worth reading.