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Monday, October 13, 2003

... and just behind the letter to Robin comes this song written just about that time ... .


The Ballad of the Oakland Induction Center


Went to town that morning, knew I'd find them there
standing 'roun' the sidewalks, not far from the square.
The old and young, together, walking in the sun
with signs on their shoulders and love in their hearts
singing, "Peace just has to come."

Bearded men and children, equal under skies
black and white, old soldiers, too, with fear behind their eyes.
The old and young, together, walking in the sun
with signs on their shoulders and love in their hearts
singing, "Peace just has to come!"

Policeman watched us closely, billies in their hands,
seven hundred strong, they waited -- with orders to protect this land
from old and young, together, walking in the sun
with signs on their shoulders and love in their hearts
singing, "Peace just has to come!"

The first of many carriers rolled up to disembark
the precious cargo of our young men to march off toward the dark
we pleaded with them, "No! Don't go!" Don't let us make you kill!
We must begin to live in peace, if you'll just stay, we will.
We offered them our bodies to lie twixt theirs and hell
The billies struck! The screams rang out! A boy beside me fell!

Then old and young, together, writhing in the sun
with blood on their shoulders and tears in their hearts,
crying, "Peace just has to come!"
crying, "Peace just has to come!"

We gathered up our sorrow, our days work now was done
but we'll return tomorrow, we'll be here with the sun.

then:

Old and young, together, we'll go walking in the sun
with signs on our shoulders and love in our hearts
singing, "Peace just has to come.
singing, "Peace ......
just has to come!"


And so we did. It took a while, but the tide was turned -- eventually -- and that war ended. It helps me to remember this in times such as these, when we find ourselves involved in a preemptive war that appears to resemble the quagmire of Vietnam in many ways.

I've been listening for the poets to begin to speak again. Maybe grassroots songs and poetry now comes disguised as prose by the likes of Al Franken, Michael Moore, Jim Hightower, and Molly Ivins. It just may be too early to tell, but I'll be listening for them -- and hoping... .

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