Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day music

I'm dating myself by posting this one, but the a cappella rendition by Pete Seeger, the author of the song, is memorable.
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The story of the song's genesis is here.

At our church, yesterday, the one mention of Memorial Day was by Sue, the person leading the Prayers of the People, which we always have in both formal and informal form: in the second half, anyone can offer a prayer, and many people do. Sue prayed (I am paraphrasing): "Let us pray for all the brave men and women who have died in service to our country [she may have said "their country" or "their countries," I can't remember -- I know she wasn't just remembering U.S. dead, she is active in various efforts for peace, including the situation in Sudan], and let us pray that soon, very soon, no more people will join their number."

For those of you who have Peter, Paul, and Mary nostalgia, here's their version...
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(And yes, it was all very heteronormative back then...)

Joan Baez is still singing the song today. This (YouTube in post below) will bring back memories for some of you, and speak to this Memorial Day for many. Joan Baez sang this with mothers who had lost children in war, and then again at the concert recorded on the YouTube below.

5 comments:

Kirstin said...

Good prayer!

We didn't mention Memorial Day either. I am going to a peace demonstration at the Federal Bldg in SF tomorrow, though. (I only know about it because Bishop Marc tagged me on Facebook.) It's hosted by the Quakers.

Off to blog that, so more people find out about it.

johnieb said...

You guys ("y'all") make me proud of my church.

Ed said...

I love this song, but (hope I'm not being a wet blanket), I do have trouble with the gender roles it assumes. This came home to me in a surprising and poignant way.

With the increased prominence of women in the military, my sister, who is mother of a girl, has become convinced that in the next draft, women will be called up. She actually wanted to raise my niece as a Quaker, so she'd have sure-fire conscientious objector cred if it ever came up. Unfortunately, the Quaker community where she lives (Lexington KY) was not terribly congenial. She liked the Quaker philosophy and style, but the community was yuppie-dominated and not terribly welcoming to her (she's a single mother who works as a secretary). When will they ever learn? (BTW, I do not infer anything about Quakers per se from her experience; just that Lexington's big enough to have a little of most things, but not big enough to have much choice in a lot of them.)

Our prayers of the people are open-mike style and typically range from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, on Sunday they were all very much to the point: we got a lot of prayers along the lines of the one you quoted. The sermon on "A spirit of adoption" brought a lot up too. It was a three-hanky prayer time for me, I tell you.

Ed said...

P.S. I couldn't post a comment here all day yesterday. It was KILLING me! Some how it seems to have sorted itself out.

Jane R said...

Yes, the gender roles. Also the other stuff (which is why I wrote the little note about heteronormativity). I do wish we had national service for everyone but not military service: something like AmeriCorps and all the various CityYear et al. options. I have seen such wonderful work from all the various young adult programs, from Jesuit Volunteer Corps (which I love and whose informal motto is "ruined for life") to the Presbyterian equivalent (which I just found out existed because one of our recent alums, a student from my department (Religious Studies) has been in it all year, working in Arizona on the U.S.-Mexican border, to VISTA and Peace Corps to AmeriCorps. I have no problem at all with requiring service to the country from all young adults ca. 18 years old. Why we have to do it in military form is another question. They are two different things and there are a lot of ways to serve our country. But back to reality, yes, there may well be a draft soon and now that the Bush daughters are over age they wouldn't be eligible... There was some tally a couple of years ago of how many Senators (Congress was different I think) had actually served in the military (and seen combat) and how many children of people of both Houses were in the military now and it was telling. You can imagine what the figures were. Very, very, very low.

As always, the poor pay most of the price.

Did I mention there was a very moving interview on NPR recently of a young man who is going on a 4th tour of duty to Iraq? He volunteered for this one -- he's going to be working with General Petraeus and deferred a degree (law/business or business/public policy double degree) at Harvard to do this. Pure sense of duty (not love of war) and of wanting to put responsible people in leadership in a bad situation. It was humbling to listen to him.

At least we have matured in this country to the point where the anti-war folks are very clear that we are also "supporting the troops" -- i.e. we respect them, are not spitting at them when they come home (as happened during Vietnam) and so on. But the war goes on... Cindy Sheehan's statement (above, posted today May 29) is sobering. I read another piece in the last few days, can't remember where, about how much money and moneyed interests drive presidential campaigns. Which doesn't mean I won't get involved, we have no right to complain if we don't do something (whether it's traditional politics or demonstration or civil disobedience, doesn't matter, there are many gifts, cf. First Corinthians and all that -- not all are called to risk arrest, not all are called to lobby in the halls of the legislature, etc.) but the system is discouraging... Okay, I have to go back to my Third World women theologians. (Yes, I still use the term "Third World and I have a huge footnote somewhere saying why. See in the column to the right -way down- the major association that still uses the term, EATWOT, the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.)