Anti-War Essay

2796 WordsDec 15, 201412 Pages
Music has always kept company with American wars. During the Revolutionary War, “Yankee Doodle” and many other songs set to reels and dances were sung to keep spirits alive during dark hours. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Lincoln’s favorite song during the Civil War, was countered by “Dixie” in the Confederate States. In 1918, in the middle of World War I, Irving Berlin gave us “God Bless America,” considered by many to be the unofficial anthem of the United States. Composers such as Marc Blitzstein and Samuel Barber were enlisted to write upbeat songs for the Office of War Information during World War II. But wars also create their unique antagonists who transform their empathy, concern, anger, and other emotions into poetry, prose, or in our time, popular music. This was particularly true of the war in Vietnam. Given this era’s unique historical circumstances, the musical soundscape to the Vietnam War was strikingly different from the music that accompanied World War II. While there were patriotic songs that did very well, most notably Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler’s million-selling number-one hit “Ballad of the Green Berets” in 1966 and Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” in 1969, the vast majority of Vietnam War songs fell into the category of anti- rather than pro-war songs. American involvement in Vietnam had evolved through the United States’ support of French colonial rule after World War II. The United States saw the anti-communist Viet Diem and his regime as a “proving ground for Democracy,” in the words of then US senator from Massachusetts John F. Kennedy. After being elected president in 1960, Kennedy increased military aid. By the time of his assassination in November 1963, there were 16,000 American military personnel stationed in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s vice president and successor, escalated American involvement in Vietnam

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