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Woodstock 40 years ago. WOW! Where did the time go?

Posted Friday, August 14, 2009, at 7:28 PM

I was a Woodstock almost there.

In between my Sophomore and Junior year at college a few buddies and I planned a "camping trip" and headed off to find an outdoor concert we heard about through the grapevine. We ended up in the huge traffic jam and decided that since we had a jeep we were going to try an alternate route.

It almost worked. We drove through numerous fields and farm gates. Got stuck in the mud too many times to remember now, even though we had 4 wheel drive. Had our sleeping bags blow over the edge of a cliff we camped on the first night, not that we got any sleep and finally gave up within earshot of the music.

Had we realized at the time what a huge event this was going to be, we probably would have left our jeep and walked like many others who just abandoned their rides wherever they stopped. But we were already scared that our parents would find out, and forsaking all sanity was not in our genes. So, we were close but no banana.

Any of you have memories of Woodstock or maybe the Flower Days in San Francisco? Any memories that you can share publicly?


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I remember a couple of college age relatives who went to the festival. I was only 10 at the time. I recall them describing Woodstock as the absolute greatest thing they had ever experienced. There's never been another moment in history when 500,000 people were thrown together for three days without any acts of violence or people hating on each other. I've watched the video several times and the music as well as the attitude was outstanding

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 2:19 AM

Unfortunately, I was in Army officer candidate school at Ft. Benning. The outside world was a distant entity to me and many others caught up in the surreality of learning to commit war. At least it was for this young guy fresh out of college who had never previously ventured far from home in the vast openness of West Texas.

-- Posted by kentflanagan on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 5:38 AM

There were a lot of extremes during that time. Even though we never got to the actual festival grounds, we met and talked with many that were coming and it was a totally different group of people than those with whom we were used to associating.

Most were "gentle folk" who did not seem to have an enemy or care in the world. Some may not have been in our reality at the time either. Who knows, we might have met some of our future government leaders or other famous folk, but we never traded names, just banter.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 11:00 AM

No I did not go to Woodstock at the time Woodstock was happening I wasn't allowed to cross the street alone.

I have watched many videos and movies of Woodstock and love the music. I think I would have loved it but I was born in the wrong era. :>(

-- Posted by Dianatn on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 4:38 PM

I would have loved to have been there and seen Hendrix, but i was 7 then and my father was a Air Force man and would have never shown up where "those long haired creeps" would have been.

Thus all my life I have sought out the "long haired creeps.."

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 6:01 PM

I was living in a commune in Nashville at the time with about six other people plus all of our pets. I was working at a Pizza place down on 21st Ave. across from IHOP and Vandy and some of my friends came by and wanted me to leave and go with them to this concert up in New York somewhere. I REALLY wanted to go, but couldn't just walk out on my job. I hugged them good-bye and felt awful, cause I really LOVED concerts. When I heard about all of the mud and rain, I was glad I didn't go. The rest is history.

-- Posted by ridgeroamer on Sat, Aug 15, 2009, at 11:59 PM

On the Vietnam Wall, Panel 19 West, Line 43-64 are the names of 109 Americans who lost their lives during the four days of the Woodstock Music Festival, August 15-18, 1969. From James D. Anderson to Gary E. Young. Richard Kolb writes the following tribute to those 109 Americans in the August issue of the VFW Magazine;

Newsweek described them as "a youthful, longhaired Army almost as large as the US force in Vietnam". one of the promoters saw what happened near Bethel, NY as an opportunity to :showcase" the drug culture as a "beautiful phenomenon".

The newsmagazine wrote of "wounded hippies" sent to impromtu hospital tents. Some of the 400,000 of the nation's "affluent white young" attended the "electric pot dream". One sympathetic chronicler recently described them as "a veritable army of hippies and freaks."

Time gushed with admiration for the tribal gathering, declaring; "It may well rank as one of the significant political and sociological event of the age." It deplored the three deaths there - "one from an overdose of drugs [heroin], and hundreds of youths freaked out on bad trips caused by low-grade LSD." yet attendees exhibited a "mystical feeling for themselves as a special group," according to the magazine's glowing essay.

The same tribute mentioned the "meaningless war in the jungles of Southeast Asia" and quoted a commentator who said the young need "more opportunities for authentic service".

Meanwhile, 8,429 miles around the other side of the world, 514,000 mostly young Americans were authentically serving the country that had raised them to place society over self. the caualties they sustained over those four days were genuine, yet none of the elite media outlets were praising their selflessness.

So forty years later, let's finally look at those 109 Americans who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam Aug. 15, 16, 17, and 18, 1969.

An American Profile

They mirrored the population of the time. A full 92% were white (seven of whom had Spanish surnames) and 8% Black. Some 67% were Protestants and28% Catholic. A disproportionate number - more than one third - were from the South. Over two thirds were single; nearly one third were married. Not surprisingly, the vast majority (92%) were under the age of 30, with 78% between the ages of 18 and 22.

Overwhelmingly, (87%), they were in the Army. Marines and Airmen accounted for 8% and 4% of the deaths respectively with sailors sustaining 1%. Again, not unexpectedly, two-thirds were infantrymen. that same proportion was lower-ranking enlisted men. Enemy action claimed 84% of their lives; non-hostile causes, 16%. The preponderance (56%) had volunteered while 43% had been drafted. One was in the National Guard.

Of the four days, August 18 - the last day of "peace and love" in the Catskills when the 50,000 diehards departed after the final act - was the worst for the men in Vietnam.Thirty-five of them died on that one miserable day. Many perished in the Battle of Hiep Duc fighting with the hard luck Americal Division in the Que Son Mountains. In fact, 37% of all the GIs who lost their lives in this period came from this one unit.

So when you hear talk of the glories of Woodstock - the so-called "defining event of a generation" - keep in mind those 109 GIs who served nobly yet arenever lauded by the illustrious spokemen for the "Sixties Generation".

I re-typed the entire article from the magazine because VFW didn't put it on line yet. All of the errors are mine.

I may bump this back up in a few weeks when the anniversary comes around.

Me personaly, I was attending Basic Training at Fort Polk La.

-- Posted by Flyncarpet on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 3:43 AM

Flyncarpet,

I too was at Fort Polk during that time period. While those young people were hugging one another and dancing around in the mud and the rain at Woodstock, I was preparing to crawl around in the mud with an M-16 craddled in my arms.

I hold no grudges. They were doing what was right for them. I on the other hand was doing what Uncle Sam told me to do. South East Asia was a tragedy. Many of us lost freinds. We saw and did things eighteen year olds should never see or do.

You and I have no right to try and belittle what happened in that feild any more than those attending had a right to mock our presence in Vietnam.

In my fifty-nine years on this earth, I have learned one thing is certain. Whenever two sides differ on a subject rarely is either side telling the whole truth.

That is what is going on today with the healthcare issue. It appears that those shouting at one another at town hall meetings have one goal, be right. They are not willing to listen or consider what the other side has to say. That is not truly democracy at work. That is simply one view refusing to listent to another. Winning the argument is more important that facing the issue.

God Bless America. I just wish that her citizens would learn to be more tolerant and less judemental of on another.

This country was founded on the concept of doing what is best for the nation not select individuals.

We are the greatest and richest nation on earth. Why can we not agree that we need to take care of our sick and elderly?

-- Posted by goose2008 on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 7:15 AM

flyncarpet: thanks SO much for telling us about the servicemen who were killed during that festival time. That was such a sad time in american history.

They are the ones we need to lift up and remember..

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 7:45 AM

Vietnam was a major topic among those going to Woodstock. ALL of us were part of that conversation and at the time I was in ROTC and keeping track of classmates who were there and a few that died.

It was a tumultuous time, and the feelings ran very hot. Going back in memories has resulted in my having to stop writing for now. The emotions are not buried as deep as I thought.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 10:05 AM

Not that much has changed in 40 years. Thirteen American soldiers who died in Afghanistan didn't get any mention at all recently because for two weeks all the media attention was focused on a pedophile's death by overdose. (Micheal Jackson)

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 11:56 AM

I was not yet born when the event took place. It was well into the 1980's before I ever associated Woodstock with anything except Snoopy. I appreciate both the protestors and the soldiers, but I am not at all disappointed that I missed the era.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Sun, Aug 16, 2009, at 3:29 PM

My parents made me there.

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Mon, Aug 17, 2009, at 5:44 PM

From what I saw, just on the edge of the concert, I would say you have quite a few who share your weekend of conception.

Did they take any pictures or share their view of the event?

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 18, 2009, at 7:11 AM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.