In 1963 a young native Canadian American folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie living in Greenwich Village was moved by seeing young wounded soldiers returning from Vietnam while the U.S. government was denying that our men were involved in the war. It inspired her war protest song “Universal Soldier” that has endured as perhaps the most recognized anti-war song in contemporary culture. Eventually many returning U.S. servicemen faced condemnation by the American people in their own communities for participating in the war even though it was certainly not their choice. Even though I was just a kid, I remember it as a wrenching time and a very difficult issue for adults. The resulting societal moral conflict led to the end of the draft in 1972/1973. The song has new meaning today as we witness militants fighting for the federal government attacking U.S. citizens on the streets in our home country. Those militants are rightfully being condemned within their communities.
It was great to see her as the headliner tonight at Philadelphia Folk Festival. Her version of “America the Beautiful” was moving. Her new war protest song “The War Racket” is equally strong that preceded “Universal Soldier”.