Woodstock Encapsulated an Era of Social, Political Protest

Woodstock, which celebrated its 40th anniversary 15-16 August, has come to mean more than music.  It's come to stand for the 60s protest movement.  But how did the music festival become a rallying point for a new political movement?

Over four days the focus of the Woodstock crowd was on this main stage.  But behind the scenes something else was happening.  Food had run out.  It was raining.  Still a community was developing, as these pictures at the Bethel Woods museum show.  Zeke Boyle was a teenager alienated from an older generation.

"The way people were sharing at Woodstock, if you were wet and cold, they would offer you their extra shirt," he said.  "They would offer you food.  People were sharing everything. "

There were other problems such as young people overdosing on drugs.   

"I ended up drinking a lot and I ended up taking some LSD and I didn't have that peace/love experience that a lot of other people had," Joe Dipone recalled.

Still, just being part of the Woodstock community changed Joe Dipone.

"Looking back on it, it was really good for me, because what it did it made me aware that there was a whole other lifestyle going on and another different consciousness going on," he added.  

Duke Devlin came for the music and fun.

"You had the war in Vietnam.  You had civil rights, you had women's rights, gay rights and you had the music, which was a form of communication that we used strongly back then," he noted.

The music, says American musician Richie Havens, touched a powerful chord.   

"If I could tell you how many people hugged me.  From the time I start. It was amazing.  I don't even believe it myself.  It was thousands.  Thousands," he said.   

And after Woodstock many, like Zeke Boyle and Joe Dipone, went on to protest the war.  

"It gave credence to the whole movement and my part of the movement," Mr.  said.  "It empowered me and it made me feel my voice had some meaning.  In any way I can – [I am for] speaking out against injustice of any kind," he said.

Today the site is run by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Inside, films about Woodstock, clearly show the conditions at the festival:

There are replicas of the hippie cars and the buses that brought people to the site. People who were at Woodstock come here to tour and reminisce.

"It made me feel I could make a change in the world," she said.

In fact, says Michael Lange the promoter of Woodstock, he is the man on the right, change is the legacy of Woodstock.

"What's important to remember is there's possibility for things to be better and that people can make a difference," he said.  "That if you get involved and make a commitment to something, you can be part of change that's positive for everybody. "

The site today is a shrine.  Ralph Corwin, a boy who spent just one day here still comes back often to clear his mind.  He plans on being here forever.

"I will have my ashes scattered out there, because nothing bad has ever happened to me here," he said.

Local people also feel this site is special.  Years ago they placed this monument on the small hill above the site so no one will forget.

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