Country Joe's Place

A Report from the Library of Congress 200th Birthday


On April 24, 2000, the 200th birthday of the Library of Congress was celebrated in Washington. Thirty-four "Living Legends" were decorated for their contribution to American life, including Pete Seeger and Gen. Colin Powell. An eyewitness account:

Joe, One of the high points for me at the marvelous birthday of the LOC on 4/24 was this moment when Pete Seeger serenaded all of the Living Legends, including Colin Powell, with "Fixin' to Die Rag." The good general looked a little queasy, cast his eyes downward and took a deep breath ... only in America. The general was not happy but he didn't walk off the stage nor was Pete mugged backstage and taken to jail for blows against the empire. I spoke to Pete last night and asked him if this was a personal serenade he planned for the general. He said, "No, I guess the muse made me do it." Again, only in America.
Your pal, Mickey Hart

Actually Pete played that day with his grandson Tao and it was Tao who suggested the song.

Peter told me after this event that he asked the general if he was offended by the singing of the song. The general said no he was just remembering all the friends he had who died in the Vietnam war. He was after all a lower-ranking, black, line officer in the war which of course makes him a Vietnam veteran just like all the other Vietnam veterans. I have never met a Vietnam veteran that disliked the song and find that it always is a part of their memories of that terrible experience. Even a general can have these feelings and memories.


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