notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Maybe I Was Right After All

I am a product of the Woodstock generation.

I graduated high school in 1969 – the year of Woodstock. Not that I was even aware of Woodstock at the time. I was clueless (which was not even a word back then) of the concert/festival/free-for-all until after it had already occurred.  But I wholeheartedly jumped onto the Peace Train of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll as soon as I stopped being so ‘out of it’ – which was 1969 for ‘clueless.’

It wasn’t all sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. The rock-n-roll was serious. The sex and drugs were more of a tentative experiment.

But, besides our incredible music, there were other serious issues for us Woodstock kids.

War, the struggle for civil rights, assassinations, a government that was lying to its people.

And we wanted things to be better.

Growing up in the sixties, we barely remembered the powerful and harrowing fight for civil rights in the fifties. We only knew that things were supposed to be better, and people were now supposed to be equal – and we were distraught and often angry as we realized it wasn’t so.

We saw our leaders and our role models assassinated, and we felt adrift and bewildered. We thirsted for new heroes and yet our sudden loss of innocence caused us to distrust those who might lead us.

Women often found themselves, at best, dismissed and belittled. At worst,  powerless and excluded. From good jobs, financial security, a voice in politics, and even from physical safety itself.

And most significantly – we faced War. We watched our friends and brothers drafted into a war that no one could explain or justify. We saw Vietnamese citizens and our own soldiers die on TV. Government lied to us and we knew it. And when it was apparent to the Establishment that we knew they were lying, then WE became the enemy.

And so we rallied, we marched, we protested, we defied.

For a while.

And then we slowly surrendered. We BECAME the Establishment. Indoctrinated into the cult of status quo and the gorgeousness of money.

To be fair to us Woodstock kids, we did not abandon all of our idealism. We brought some of our principles with us.

And some things DID change for the better.

The Vietnam War was recognized as the failure and tragedy that it was, and it was brought to an end. I think our protests made a difference, but I also believe that the Pentagon Papers and even Walter Cronkite made more of an impact than we did.

Some changes were more gradual. Inevitably, as we aged and so gained the reins of power, our dormant (but not dead) beliefs gained power as well. There is no denying that there has been an improvement in opportunity and acceptance for women, for people of color, for same-sex love. But there is also no denying that it is imperfect and that there is still such a long way to go.

And that it has taken way too long.

But now – fifty years later – there is a new generation of kids who want to change the world.

They want to save the planet.

They want Government to represent all the people, not just the rich; not just the white.

They want to be happy again – and safe in their homes and in their streets and in their schools.

And I want for them to succeed. I want them to see that our mistake – all that time ago – was to accept that ‘gradual’ was good.

I want them to be impatient for justice.

Fifty years ago, I thought that kids would change the world.

I might finally be right.

 

31 Comments

  1. I never thought of it that way, Nancy,but you are right. We settled for gradual. It’s not rocket science. You would think the government would have figured that out by now! ~Elle

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    • We did settle for gradual. I know I did, when I thought I would never. I also know that I was greatly influenced by the “gorgeousness of money” – once I started to get some!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The kids are the ones with all the energy. I keep cheering them on. My girlfriend’s older brother asked if we wanted to drive up to New York for a long weekend of rock-n-roll, but we were busy working for that first semester tuition and couldn’t go. That’s how we missed Woodstock.

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    • Somewhere in a drawer I have Connecticut’s answer to Woodstock, which was the Middlefield concert, which was pretty much a disaster. I had tickets for myself and who I hoped would be my boyfriend. My mother was so upset, I backed out. I never did have the courage to disappoint her – I still don’t – and perhaps that is a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen

    I missed Woodstock as well but I did attend the Atlanta Pop Festival that same summer on the July 4th weekend. Much the same situation but without the fame of Woodstock. Awesome days those were!

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    • I loved the whole atmosphere of the late 60s/early 70s – we were so sure of ourselves!

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  4. Nancy Herrick

    Nicely written, Nancy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for writing this, it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking as I watch the young people at their rallies. These young idealist kids are younger versions of many of us from so long ago. Many of the people making disparaging remarks are my age. Have they forgotten that we did the same thing in the 60s? Truly there is nothing new in the world, though many of us chose to forget our own histories.

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    • I definitely see my generation reborn in these kids. I hope their future is bright.

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  6. Another bloody awesome post

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  7. I am hopeful about this new generation, but at the same time, they seem confused. Sometimes it feels like they all move together like a swarm of bees, or Pokemon-chasers who gather more force for the next trend. Figuring out new inventions and technologies and science, but who also have among them the generation of kids who eat Tide Pods to get famous, and/or the generation who is next to raise children. I’m usually hopeful. But sometimes, I’m scared. Sometimes it seems like a delicate balance between idealistic and clueless.

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    • Oh they are definitely still children, but in some ways they have had adulthood thrust upon them, and are rising to the challenge.

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  8. Well, we are going to the Walkout March and supporting these kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for standing up for justice, and for supporting these kids who are showing the adults how to care.

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  9. We do what we can while we can and at some point leave it to next gen. That is always true.

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    • Very true. I worry for these kids though – we are depending on them so much when they are so young.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Like the generation b4 us depending on us. They can do it! LOL.

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  10. I am slightly younger than you, but I think we did do a lot. We ended the Vietnam war, we made great advances in civil and women’s rights. Education was more within the reach of everybody. We cleaned up the environment to a really significant degree. We made great music.

    We won and then went about raising our families.

    And then the underbelly was revealed. Many of us are fighting again, as we can. But it is not our turn. And so we follow the Parkland students and the LGBTQ activists, and the black lives matter activists. And we support them, and cheer them on.

    Civilization, and civilizing, is a constant effort.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree Elyse. We accomplished a lot, but I think we fell into complacency and thought our work had been done, when we had only started.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True. But I am so impressed by these folks!

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  11. I missed Woodstock because I was serving my country on a mountain top in Turkey. Most change is gradual and meets a lot of resistance by those who don’t like or understand change.
    Love the post!

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    • Thanks. It does seem that change is gradual. I wish sometimes it would be move quicker!

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  12. I hope you’re right. x

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  13. I missed Woodstock; but that is OK. Many of my friends from high school, died in Vietnam or went to Canada to avoid Vietnam. 1969 was the year I graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas.
    I grew up under the very strict thumbs of very controlling parents. So I was sheltered from most of life going on then. However, I did watch the moon landing in 1969 and saw the miracle of man reaching out from this earth.
    So much has happened in the last almost 50 years. Both good and bad.
    I was blessed with children to raise who are now good American citizens, who are all good citizens of America and this earth.
    Our generation has been blessed to live this long and witness all the changes in our world. We, the citizens of this earth, need to continue to move on, make our hopes and dreams grow and
    come true; work hard to make life and living better for all this world’s citizens; honestly recognize our history and learn from history, not hide it or cover it up or deny it ; pray for our leaders, hold them accountable for their actions involving government and the governing of our countries; keep on making music and reaching out to the stars; and so much more.
    Thank you for your post. I look forward to your future comments.

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    • Learning from History and being accountable. Those two concepts would make a huge difference. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

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  14. Pam

    I hope this new generation can more easily continue the progress of our sixties generation. I believe that change has to be gradual, like it or not. I can remember one of my professors saying that radical change results in violence. Better to change in increments if we want to keep the peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Anita Waite

    Awe you are a happy soul. I am a born in the era 1969 girl and still sketching for happiness within this life. I struggle to see it feel it and to be guinually happy. Love is is easy but true happy. How , when and where are my destiny to find. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  16. englishrose659

    Great post Nancy.. I too hope this generation will take the world in a better direction

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  17. I confess, until recently I haven’t held much hope for this generation for more reasons than I care to list. I tend to get into a rant about it. That being said, I feel that something has “snapped”, the last straw has been broken (insert cliche of your choice) and it seems they have snapped out of it. It’s a shame to know that so many of their own generation had to die violently for this awakening, If what we have seen from these remarkable young people as a result is any indication I for one can say hope has been rekindled for me.

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