Vindication for the Woodstock Nation 1969

Op-Ed by Susan Boskey

As someone who attended the Woodstock Festival in 1969, I write this on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its first day, August 15, 2019. Curiously, I have been reading about Woodstock50 which failed to happen and the many commentaries about what a miserable failure the original three-day festival had been. Dirty, drugged-out hippies – what’s the point?

Not to mention I noticed online how most media outlets did not get the memo that though the Woodstock50 never happened, the events at the original Bethel, NY site, now Woodstock museum and auditorium, are in full swing. I know this because my best friend, Donna, with whom I attended the festival in ’69, lives near Bethel, New York. As an NPR affiliate broadcaster in New York interviewing different, interesting local people for her program, this week she’s interviewing people associated with the original and current series of events at the Bethel site.

But I digress. This evening I’ve been listening to a replay of the original festival including the messages in-between acts shared from the main stage about ‘lost persons’, emergency calls for specific people, lost property and letting people know about the medical tent. Forty-five unpaid MD’s were on site for emergencies including with insulin for those in need. It was an ad hoc community attempting to address individual and community concerns as they arose.

At one point, early on, some guys began to climb the sound towers alongside the stage in order to get the best ‘seat’. I remember (and heard on the replay) how a fellow on the main stage mic literally talked them down in the least aggressive yet crystal clear manner. The climbers voluntarily came down without incident. Soon after Tim Hardin came on and asked that we each light a match, which sounds innocuous enough, but was actually a stunning moment of the solidarity of over 400,000 people.

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As far as I could tell no state or local police attended; the security was internal. The medical tent served those who overdosed, were ready to give birth, or had any type of health emergency. Babies were born. A couple of people died there but no one at Woodstock was murdered like at the Altamont Festival in Northern California a few months later, which I regretfully also attended.

In 1969 at Woodstock some may remember that we ceremoniously named ourselves: the Woodstock Nation. More than a manufactured commercial gimmick, we spontaneously aligned with the spirit of love, inspired by a shared awareness of the senseless war in Vietnam, killing over 50,000 of our own and so many innocent Vietnamese.

Our mission: peaceful co-existence. What happened there was beyond what any individual or group could have orchestrated: synchronicity at its finest. Don’t get me wrong, I would never, ever, say Woodstock was a perfect world by any stretch of the imagination;  it was, however, what Jimi Hendrix called, an “experience”. I doubt anyone who was there would deny it.

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Yes, cannabis and drugs were involved and yes, I believe that we were mostly highly naive and inexperienced in the ways of the world. Yet the experience, though anecdotal,  was that 400,000+ jammed together people demonstrated their intent to ‘do no harm’ in community while celebrating the individual and collective possibility of living in harmony.

This is an absolutely noteworthy historical fact.

Make no mistake, the Woodstock Nation was a gift to humanity: a gift that lives on in the hearts of those who attended, and those who did not, committed to inner peace and to the vision of a transcendent ethic beyond differences. The so-called ‘failure’ talking point so quickly trotted out about the Woodstock story by the media, in my view, is simply revisionist history.

Given that ‘there’s ‘no going home again’ is often true, the time and place of the Woodstock Festival must be taken into full consideration. Yet the intangible, but equally real, Woodstock Nation exists forever outside of the boundaries of time and space. Since the Woodstock Nation did, at one point in time, show up in physical reality, might such synchronicity beyond our control show up somehow again?

“Peace at any price”, one of our generation’s mandates, is evergreen; it is a truth out of time. I believe we the people are more powerful individually and collectively than a government that appears to depend on war for the health of the economy.


Susan is a Certified Cannabis Practitioner and graduate of the Holistic Cannabis Academy with over 45 years of personal involvement in the spectrum of wellness modalities. Her mission today is to intervene in the noise of modern life and help her clients identify and remove stressors that trigger their dis-ease. She personalizes care plans regarding the best cannabis strain, dose and delivery system to address her client’s issue. As a non-physician coach Susan enjoys the added flexibility of also providing protocols for simple lifestyle changes to accelerate the healing process. Visit her website: LifestyleWellnessRx.com 

Image credit: Pixabay

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