Friday, December 19, 2008

American Heroes/American Values

Seeger at 86 on the cover of Sing Out! (Summer...Image via WikipediaLooking over the list of this year's Grammy nominees, I was thrilled to see one of my great heroes: Pete Seeger. One reason why this comes as a surprise is that Seeger will turn 90 next spring! On the other hand, Pete has spent his long, rich life pursuing the values that he most cares about -- social justice, racial equality, environmental protection, and world music. Seeger's not just a folk music hero to me; he's worshiped by many important singers who've followed him -- Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Steve Earle just to name a few. (See the "iPod" on the side of this blog to hear Earle's recent song called "Steve's Hammer for Pete").

Seeger is a man of tremendous principle. He married a Japanese woman in the 1940's when our country was throwing many Japanese-Americans in prison camps. He fought for civil rights, singing with Mahalia Jackson and Paul Robeson when it nearly cost him his life. He inspired many famous civil rights leaders, including Julian Bond, who credits Seeger for opposing Jim Crow laws before the Civil Rights Movement really got underway. Pete even wrote some of the lyrics to "We Shall Overcome". He fought for unions and common working men (and women since he also advocated equality among the sexes). He traveled the world and recorded world music like no one had ever done before.



For all this he was branded a Communist and blacklisted from appearing on TV for 17 years at the height of his popularity. When the ban was finally lifted he shocked everyone by defiantly singing an anti-Vietnam War song called "The Big Muddy." Since then he sang to end apartheid in South Africa and almost single handedly cleaned up the Hudson River. He's 89 now and he gets my vote for "the American who best exemplifies the values I hold most dear." Who are your heroes?
Enhanced by Zemanta

4 comments:

Max Rice said...

No offense Bob Seger is better. "Turn the Page" is coolest song ever written, and I dont know how any as a highschool guy I am obliged to love "night moves". But my main hero definately has to be John Wayne.

Adam said...

The question of "who are your heroes" is somewhat vague. Are yu refering to in the music industry like Pete Seeger or in general? If I had to choose someone in music I guess it would be Bono. He has dedicated a lot of his time to helping those less fortunate in Africa and working to fight Aids. I think that he is a model musician and can be considered a Hero for what he has accomplished on and off the stage.

Julia said...

Wow. This post was very cool to read, i love reading about people like this who are trying to change the world and make it a better place. Whenever i hear what these people have done, it always makes me wanna go out there and do something to help too. The question "who are your heroes" is vague. (i agree with adam) but just thinking of like a hero in general i would have to say my dad. He has made many trips over the years to South Africa, India, Japan, and other places and he goes there and takes pictures of the lifestyles there. The pictures are amazing to see. The people in India have such a different lifestyle than us and it is crazy to see some of the places where they live. My dad was talking to me and said that he wanted to sell his 3 cars so that he can buy one environmentally safe car to help the environment. And i think if more people thought this way, our planet would be healthier and happier.

Julia said...

Wow. This post was very cool to read, i love reading about people like this who are trying to change the world and make it a better place. Whenever i hear what these people have done, it always makes me wanna go out there and do something to help too. The question "who are your heroes" is vague. (i agree with adam) but just thinking of like a hero in general i would have to say my dad. He has made many trips over the years to South Africa, India, Japan, and other places and he goes there and takes pictures of the lifestyles there. The pictures are amazing to see. The people in India have such a different lifestyle than us and it is crazy to see some of the places where they live. My dad was talking to me and said that he wanted to sell his 3 cars so that he can buy one environmentally safe car to help the environment. And i think if more people thought this way, our planet would be healthier and happier.