In June this year, I took a trip up to New York’s Hudson Valley for the Clearwater Hudson River Revival. I have been meaning to go for years, but when I found out that Buffy Sainte-Marie was one of the headliners, I couldn’t resist any longer.
My father had her music on reel-to-reel tape, and I’ve got it on both vinyl and CD. This song is probably her most famous. And I’ve seen her several times in the past, as a child and an adult.
She is proud of her Cree heritage, as well as her Canadian First Nations roots and pacifism. Her music was part of the early soundtrack of my life.
I should have remembered before becoming involved with a military man, but I forgot my roots. This is as much a reminder to stay true to your beliefs as it is a cautionary tale of the trouble with the military, especially today.
It seems fitting to recall the struggle for pacifism on the eve of Veteran’s Day, as it is also important to remember that there are still soldiers in combat across the world. In the end she says simply, “This is not the way we put an end to war.”
If you’re not familiar with Buffy’s version, it might be because you know the 1965 version Donovan made famous.