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Thursday June 22nd 2017

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Turn, Turn, Turn

tumblr_n04fj95tnP1qd9dz2o1_1280By Peter Molenaar

It was a pleasant surprise to find not one, but two of my comrades on the front page of last month’s Alley Newspaper. Pete Seeger and Meridel Le Sueur were both amazing human beings. Truth to tell, however, Pete’s Party status has been somewhat hazy. He was “close”, they said. As for Meridel, thirty some years ago I gave her rides to and from meetings – so I’ve known all along that she was a Communist.

Pete Seeger passed away January 27, 2014, at the age of 94.

In point of fact, in the period of rising fascism, at age 17, Pete did join the Young Communist League in opposition to the pacifism and left-isolationism he encountered at Harvard University. He believed the whole world should unite to defeat Hitler.

THIS MACHINE SURROUNDS HATE AND FORCES IT TO SURRENDER rang the words of his banjo. In the prime years of his life, so it followed, the “authorities” did their best to hound and to blacklist him.

But there was no way they could stop Pete. No. His rendering of “We Shall Overcome” was to become the anthem of the Freedom Movement. Then later, in the period of the Vietnam War, his “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” would break through on national television. For members of my generation, there remains the awesome memory of the church camp songs of our youth. They were Pete Seeger’s gift to our spiritual development.

Imagine Pete descending a concert stage, walking up to a would-be assassin, and singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” The soldier began to weep… “Pete Seeger is one of the best Americans and patriots I know” — Johnny Cash. “Some artists make music history, Pete made history with his music”. — President Bill Clinton.

In my own words: Through the eyes of Christ he saw there two rebellious slaves, crucified upon the same hill.

Final words he sings:

To my old brown Earth

and to my own blue sky

I now give back to you

the last few molecules

of I.

Pete left the Communist Party in the early 1950s. Nonetheless, he never wavered from his beliefs. I have every right to claim him as my comrade – and so do you.

Note: a documentary of Pete Seeger’s life can be found by searching “TPT The Power of Song”

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