May 21 @ 4:00 pm EDT - 6:00 pm EDT
“What’s Going On?” – Understanding the music of the Vietnam Era
How can we historically understand the war in Vietnam and its music? First, let’s take a listen to some songs of the 1940s that motivated the soldiers of World War II. The surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 gave rise to the Cold War—a phrase first uttered by George Orwell—when the uneasy alliance between the United States and Great Britain on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other started to fall apart. The “red scare” will usher in another war, McCarthy Hearings, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet for one brief time there was “Camelot” and in his historic words, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” soldiers followed in their fathers’ boots and renewed their dedication to fight for democracy and prevent “further aggression” by the communist government of North Vietnam. There was no chance we were going to lose in Vietnam and music of these years was hawkish and patriotic. Rock ‘n roll and American values came together to reduce or eliminate worry or uncertainty. But as the war intensified and American society became turbulent there was a radical shift: music became cynical and dissenting. Listening to the soundtrack of the Vietnam War let’s reflect and share individual and family stories. We’ll conclude with a tribute to everyone who served during the war.
Open to all Military Veterans, Active Members, Family, or Caretakers.
Please register here to reserve your spot.
Jack Sommers earned a MA in The Humanities and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies and taught at Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University. After watching the Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War, he traveled there in May 2018 with several soldiers and Marines and following this trip he retired to begin writing stories on the war.
“What’s Going On?” Recorded by Marvin Gaye, May 21, 1971
This workshop is free for all active duty, veterans, family, and caregivers of the U.S. Armed Forces and made possible in part through the National Endowment for the Arts.
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