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Advancing The Peace Movement: Music During The Vietnam War

1502 words - 6 pages

The Vietnam War: the most dismal and disputed war that the United States has fought. A war plagued by fatalities and extreme costs. It began as a political war, when North Vietnam tried to overrun and impose communism on South Vietnam. Americans, at the outset, felt the war was justified and worthwhile. Opinion started to change, at least among young people, as the war lingered and the death toll rose. Peace protesters emerged, and along with the peace movement came music. Unlike any other war in history, the artists of the Vietnam era used their music to influence political beliefs and to unite the protesters. During the Vietnam War, the music became integral to the peace movement.
The peace movement arose from opposition from the young adults in the nation. According to the history.com staff, early in the Vietnam War, college campuses were the main site of protests. Local college students would hold peaceful protests to enlighten others to what was really going on (history.com staff). Early in the war, very few people were concerned, and protesters were ignored. As the Vietnam War wore on, questions began to be asked. The government’s response was that they feared the “Domino Effect,” where if one nation falls to communism, other nations will follow. But as the years went by, and death tolls rose with scarce meaningful military accomplishments, the peace movement grew. In the United States, passionate young people began to gather, questioning whether the war was only a political move with no real benefits to our country’s security and power.
In 1967, about 100,000 protestors gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and continued to march to the Pentagon. Soldiers protecting the buildings began to attack and the protest became hostile. Hundreds of protesters were arrested. “In October 1969, more than 2 million people participated in Vietnam protests across the country” (Barriger). In May 1970, National Guard troops shot and killed four protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. It was widely covered on news media that young people at home died fighting for those who were dying in Vietnam. These events, and others like them, inspired young musical artists to express their reactions, concerns, and ideas through their music.
Woodstock, probably America’s most recognized music concert, was pivotal to the peace movement. On August 15, 1969, “a music festival was held in a farmer’s field. But this was no ordinary music festival. This festival, deemed The Woodstock Music and Art Festival, would bring together a generation of peace-lovers. It was supposed to drum up some publicity for a music studio that would be built in Bethel, NY. But it did more than that, it brought together the greatest artists of the era, and was a celebration of peace, and music” (Music and the Anti-War Movement).
According to Rosenberg, Woodstock, which was originally planned for a handful of artists and a crowd of 50,000 people, turned into one of...

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