Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pete is back on the Mall!

I don't remember what year it was. It was B.C. (before children) -- maybe '81 0r '82*? Sheila read in the paper that there was to be, the next weekend, a celebration of Oklahoma on the Mall in Washington DC. As part of that there was to be a free concert on the Mall in honor of Oklahoman Woody Guthrie.

"If there's a concert honoring the memory of Woody Guthrie, Pete will be there!" Sheila declared.

I agreed. We called the event organizers to ask. They said contractual agreements would not allow some performers to officially announce their participation, but if we were to come to Washington, she believed, we'd be glad we did. So we called up Amtrak and ordered tickets and headed to the nation's capital on a whim. We arrived very early to the Mall stage and parked ourselves right in front. And after a very worthwhile wait we witnessed one of the greatest concerts we've ever enjoyed. Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ronnie Gilbert, Arlo, Pete and others sang their hearts out. Afterwards we got to talk with Pete and Arlo and found them to be the genuine article.

I found my eyes misting up again today as I listened to the short speech that Barack Obama gave standing where Martin King stood in 1963 to deliver "I Have a Dream". Then I thought I heard a familiar voice.
Photo stolen from the Chicago Tribune. You can read their story here.

There was video of Pete Seeger, born the same year as my Daddy, his voice wavering but still Pete's, lining out the words of "This Land is Your Land" for Bruce Springsteen and the 300,000 joyous people crowding the Mall to celebrate this wonderful moment in our history.

We could have been there. Sister #1 offered free lodging at her home in Laurel MD. But my personal leave days were used for a niece's wedding last fall. And getting around in DC will be/is very difficult with safety precautions in effect. And really we'll see and hear things better on TV. Still, how angry with myself I am that I did not just take unpaid leave and go. We would have done it 25 years ago.

Here are Barack Obama's comments at the Lincoln Memorial today:

* It was 1982. That was the year of Oklahoma's Diamond Jubilee.

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