Peace and Love
By: BA @ Kids Matter
It was the summer of peace and love. The corner of Haight & Ashbury in San Francisco was alive with the sound of music and incense was floating through the air. Young people with flowers in their hair traveled from all over the country to meet; searching for something… or someone. They were searching for themselves; trying to understand and change the world around them. We all were.
Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to a town in upstate New York for one of the most remarkable events of the century; celebrating peace, love, and rock & roll. It was a dream. It was a fantasy. It was romantic. It was Woodstock. Hippies were cool. Of course, that was not the reality. That summer was a time to believe in something. After all, the Beatles told us, “All you need is love.”
I lived in a small town and led a very sheltered life. I spent summers riding around town with my friends, at the pool, and working at Day Camp as a counselor. In the fall, I went to football games, school dances, and participated in the high school band. Life was far removed from what was going on in the world. We knew what we saw on TV and heard on the radio. But we were young, therefore, bad news simply did not compute. Reality was what happened to other people. We were invincible, or so we thought. We greeted each other with the universal sign of the times and uttered the word “peace”.
That summer we fantasized about San Francisco and Woodstock. To celebrate the summer of love a group of us got together and staged the “Psychedelic Ball”. We met every day for weeks planning the perfect party. We painted a huge mural in neon colors filled with peace symbols, flower power, and other influential graffiti. The mural was hung as the major focal point for the bash. Giant colorful tissue flowers were everywhere. People were invited to come dressed as hippies complete with beads and bare feet.
When the black lights came on and the music began to play, we were transported away. Peace and love was alive in our little town. Everyone was there. We thought it was the greatest party ever. We were young and naive. So… very… naïve! It was one of the last innocent moments that we would share before we went our separate ways.
College called some names, the draft called others. My father warned me to stay away from college demonstrations. Look what happened in Ohio (four dead) he told me. The war in Vietnam was in full force. Nightly news stories showed the horrors going on halfway across the world. Protests were raging all over the country against the war. People were losing their lives for our country. Makes you grow up fast!
As we grew older, we realized that we were in the center of a world that was changing at such a rapid pace. We were right in the middle of history in the making. The first man on the moon, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, segregation, integration, discrimination, and social unrest… as the Temptations suggested it was “a ball of confusion”.
Living through the turbulence was “the best of times and the worst of times”. We lived through it and are better people because of it. Every generation thinks the same thing and it is probably true to some extent. We all have one thing in common and decades later it is still evident we continue to search for peace and love. John Lennon was right when he said, “Love and peace are eternal”.
I’m not sure the search will ever end.