I saw WWII through the eyes and ears of my mother and father’s generation. The images…the flag raising at Iwo Jima, the soldier and nurse in Times Square…and my parents’ stories and music—In the Mood and Moonlight Serenade on the jukebox of Popp’s Ice Cream Parlor in Woodhaven Queens. The music, images and stories painted a vivid picture of their experiences.

That was very different from the way I viewed my generation’s war. The images were far from uplifting–the young girl running and covered with napalm, the police captain putting a bullet in a young man’s head and body bags arriving at airports are the symbols I remember. And the songs that Americans connected to the images were decidedly “anti-war.” Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” The Doors, “Unknown Soldier,” Edwin Starr’s “War,” and many others filled the airwaves. And there were no heroic welcomings– fifteen of my local high school friends died in Vietnam.

The soldiers had their favorite songs too: Aretha Franklin’s, “Chain of Fools” and Marvin Gaye’s, “What’s Goin On?” but I believe the most popular song among the fighting forces was a song that tells of the misery of living and working in an urban environment. But within the context of serving in a foreign country, thousands of miles from home, knowing that any moment might be your last, the words, “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do,” took on an entirely different meaning: CLICK HERE FOR SONG

You can follow my “Musical History of New York City” HERE

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