In 1969, I was working for System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, in the job I wound up in after I was almost sent to Vietnam. (I’ll write about that and about the complicated mix on anti-war revulsion and sense of duty that I felt at the time in conjunction with a forthcoming poem). 1969 was the year I first felt free to publicly express my feelings about the war. For the previous two years, I had worked at Air Force facilities in Massachusetts and Florida. In an odd way, I had fulfilled the tour of duty that I had almost spent in Vietnam, and I began to involve myself politically in the anti-war movement that had begun to sweep the country the previous year. I took to wearing a black arm band at work, and when I heard about the nationwide October 15th Peace March, I joined the one that marched from Santa Monica to UCLA. At the end of the march, we were treated to a rather banal speech by Candace Bergen, in her pre-Murphy-Brown days. It wasn’t exactly inspiring, but what the hell; she was beautiful.
Song for the October 15th Peace March
I went out marching on that day.
Ten thousand people led the way,
Then more joined in, and more, and then
We marched as ten times ten times ten.
And we’ll keep on marching, if it takes us years;
Til someone listens, someone hears.
Well, when you get old and gray,
You can’t hold a candle – for peace.
When you get old and gray,
You can’t hold a candle – for love.
But if everyone else lit one little candle,
We’d have one hell of a light.
My mother called me up next day,
And I really hadn’t much to say,
So I told my mother what I’d done,
And she said: “Is that what you believe in, son?”
“Sure,” I said, “Has been for years.”
She always listens, but never hears.
Well, as we all marched along,
We all held a candle – for peace.
Well. as we all marched along,
We all held a candle – for love.
And when all of us lit just one little candle,
We had a hell of a light.