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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 30, 2014 at 7:03 AM

Pete Seeger: Shared feelings through his music during the Vietnam War

Pete Seeger, when he was 85, on his porch above the Hudson River at Beacon, N.Y., in 2004. (JIM MCKNIGHT / AP)

Reading about Pete Seeger’s legacy, I’m reminded about how deeply divided the country was in the 1960s over the Vietnam War [“Pete Seeger raised his voice for people, peace and justice,” Opinion, Jan. 28].

At the time, I was a University of Washington student in political science. The department was split over U.S. involvement, with establishment professors leaning to staying the course in Vietnam and other professors arguing against it. I came to share the view of one professor who studied France’s intervention in Vietnam, and how the French were bogged down for years in an unpopular war.

I remember a fellow student, the mother of a teenage son, who was terrified that her boy would be drafted. I can still see her face, red with anger over the war and fearful for her son’s future.

Seeger understood. Many of us found a way to share our feelings through Seeger’s music. I remember well Seeger’s song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with heartbreaking lyrics about the loss of our young men.

UW students were not much different from other students across the country, and many of us who protested the Vietnam War were both inspired and haunted by Seeger’s lyrics.

Mavis Amundson, Seattle

Comments | More in Music | Topics: Mavis Amundson, Pete Seeger, Steve Paul

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