Jan 28, 2014

Goodbye Pete Seeger. Many Thanks to this Great American Patriot

At the Strawberry Festival, Beacon 2013
The machine that kills hate! Pete's banjo
Sad news today that a symbol of civic activism and engaged citizenship has died. Yet, Pete Seeger lived a full life, inspiring several generations of Americans (and not only) to affect change to benefit the poor and the middle class. I met the man several years ago, when I moved to the Hudson valley and kept bumping into him at various events. He lived in Beacon, NY, where he had built his own cabin decades ago.

I wasn't really surprised the see a 90+ year old man to lead one march of the Occupy Wall Street when that movement sprouted a few years ago in NYC. It was Pete's kind of thing to support such causes.
I took this picture at the Strawberry Festival in Beacon, 2012

A self-described communist (with a small "c") and a people's advocate, he was often persecuted by various authorities in the US. We like to think that our country always had the best democracy and copious amounts of freedom, but it ain't true. Pete was given one year sentence for contempt of Congress after he refused to cooperate with Congress's witch hunt of those engaged in "un-American activities." Later this sentence was overturned. But, he was blacklisted and
"Backstage" but always ready to perform

barred from radio and tv for many years because of his political beliefs and activism. No matter, he continued to perform all over the country to big audiences. At it is often the case, radicals of one era are venerated later and recognized for their contributions. In 2009, Pete performed at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

The Hudson river is one of the great rivers in the US. I live by the beautiful Hudson so I take the time to look at it every day from my house, and of course sit by it for long periods at various locations up and down, on either bank. Pete loved the river and helped many efforts to clean it up. He supported the Clearwater Sloop--a boat and an organization devoted to the preservation of the river. The Clearwater Festival takes place in Croton on Hudson, usually in June; two days of music and awareness. Great place to be. Pete was there last summer. Pete liked to tell lots of stories and I'll always treasure those and our brief chats about political activism.

We'll miss him. 

*Click on the pictures above to make them bigger. I retain the rights to these pictures.