Wednesday, May 02, 2007


PEACE QUEEN DISSED AT WALTER REED

IMAGINE JOAN BAEZ'S SURPRISE
at being uninvited to perform for the recuperating heroes at Walter Reed Hospital.

"I have always been an advocate for nonviolence and I have stood as firmly against the Iraq war as I did the Vietnam War 40 years ago" she wrote. "I realize now that I might have contributed to a better welcome home for those soldiers fresh from Vietnam. Maybe that's why I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation to sing for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the end, four days before the concert, I was not 'approved' by the Army to take part. Strange irony."

Oh, strange irony, indeed.

Yes, Joan, your peace at any cost--even the cost of those victims otherwise undefended by those that lie on gurneys before you--doesn't go over that well with the men and women who understand the cost of freedom.

Read it all here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070502/ap_en_ot/people_baez_4


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I'm new here (thanks RT) and I'm not going to bore anyone with my CV--I hope you may come to know me by what I consider important to post and comment on.

The above story about performing for our injured and recuperating in a hospital does take me back to a time and place I've revisited many times in my mind but have been unable to express; not for lacking in words and the ability to generally string them together to form a cogent statement but because of the profound emotional response it still churns up from my gut.

At university in the early '70s I earned my living expenses by playing and singing in an area band. It was much easier and more lucrative to work weekend nights at various venues than many of my classmates that struggled to earn a buck waitering and doing other menial jobs, and it had some other perks for a young bucko. We did free performances from time to time if it could further the band's career and sometimes because it was the right thing to do.

My city had (still has), as most mid to large cities, a V.A. hospital. Trauma medicine then was very different than today (thank God). There was an adjunct facility several blocks from the main hospital. This facility warehoused the men that were broken beyond healing--the quadriplegics and double amputees--those never to be rehabilitated.

It was an era I think many here remember well.

A good friend of the band, a young man that lent his van and his willingness to hump the heavy equipment we used in those days, found himself warehoused in the above mentioned facility. We visited from time to time, and as Christmas approached (with the break that comes with it) we decided to give a free performance for the men stuck in such a place in the Season of Joy.

So we set our gear up in the small auditorium and commenced to rock and roll for young men our own age who would never get to experience the kinds of lives we knew were in store for us. Remember--we were used to playing for the young and carefree in the local nightclubs; how naive we were then!

Bobby was a huge Beatles fan--maybe that's what endeared us to him in the first place (as we covered a lot of their hit songs). So in the course of our set we played his favorite, "Baby You Can Drive My Car".

The hall wasn't dimmed like most performance venues. Perhaps adequate light was needed for those minding the men on their gurneys and wheelchairs.

So it wasn't difficult, at the end of that song, to see Bobby's arm beneath the sheet on his gurney struggling to lift an inch and falling, lift an inch and falling, in the loudest applause I ever heard.