Vietnam Veterans Reflect: WoodstockSarah Almazan
By Kyle Peschler
Woodstock was a music festival that occurred in the summer of 1969 in Bethel, New York. The festival is known to this day for its extensive lineup of performers and even larger crowds that were painted as anti-war protestors. Performers included Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, all of whom played an important role in the counterculture movement during the Vietnam Era. Since Woodstock took place at the height of the Vietnam War, our volunteers have different opinions on the seemingly anti-war festival.
Among the employees giving back to The Memorial was Jennifer Hardy, the Regional Vice President of the New Jersey Metro area. Although she had no ties to The Memorial or the Vietnam Era, her grandfather courageously served in World War II, which helped her understand what the Vietnam Veterans went through. Just like most of the employees, Jen believes in the core value of giving back.
Frank served in the 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York State National Guard until November 1970, when he enlisted into the U.S. Army. Frank served at Fort Dix, New Jersey, from 1970 to 1971.
Frank graduated high school in the summer of 1969, right around the time of Woodstock. Although Frank was capable of going to the festival, he declined because instead of paying $23, he could pay $4.50 to see the same artists just seven blocks away at the Fillmore East Theater in New York City.
To this day, Frank regrets not going to Woodstock. According to Frank, not all the artists who performed at Woodstock were anti-war. The festival was about peace and love; for three days, there was not a single act of violence among 400,000 people. Frank instead went to the Watkins Glen Festival after his service in the military. Frank said it had the same feeling of “peace and love” as Woodstock. The music of the Vietnam Era shaped Frank’s life in many ways. Before enlisting in the Army, Frank was anti-war; after his medical discharge in 1971, his opinions on Vietnam greatly increased.
Casper “Cappy” Everhard:
Cappy served in the Marines and was deployed to Vietnam in 1966. Cappy was a tank crewman for the Bravo Company, 1st Marine Division. At the time of Woodstock, Cappy was still in the military.
Being rejected by everyone upon coming home, Cappy didn’t want to be anywhere near Woodstock. Even if Cappy wanted to go, he still had a military haircut and would’ve stood out. Looking back now, Cappy applauds the people who went. According to Cappy, it was a big party where everyone was having fun. Cappy states that he and his fellow Marines fought for the right of civilians back home to protest. Cappy’s job was to serve his country, which he believed in.
Woodstock took place in August 1969, not long after the Moon Landing. Having been in Vietnam for a little over a month at that time, again, it had no impact on me, nor did I pay attention to it. From a cynical perspective, it was attended by individuals who could have been in the military and in Vietnam. Protesting of the war was very commonplace, and as we heard more and more about the protesting and some of the anger directed at the soldiers, we would necessarily have to tune them out.
We had a saying in Vietnam that any English teacher would be aghast at its grammar, but here it is, “It don’t mean nothing.” It was our way of saying the Country didn’t support us, the Government didn’t support us, and we could only depend on each other. Therefore, as much as I enjoyed music with the Temptations and groups like them being my preference when it came to Woodstock, “It don’t mean nothing.”
Woodstock was a controversial music festival known for its large drug use and anti-war rhetoric. The common idea is that