Pete Seeger and the HUAC

Pete Seeger is an American legend. But it wasn’t always so. Pete just turned 94.

Spadecaller posted the video on YouTube. He also wrote the following history behind “Where have all the flowers gone?”

On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.

In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quie Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.

Click HERE for the transcript of Pete’s testimony before a sub-committee of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Pete is an American patriot. He stands for the very best of the American character. He has never been intimidated by the likes of Senator Joseph McCarthy whose accusations turn people of courage into quivering jelly. He wrote and sang the songs that still stand up to the bullies who assassinate the character of others by means of innuendo and association. His joyful resilience exposes the demonic (the twisting of the good) character of public manipulation, mass hysteria, scapegoating, and the misplaced patriotism that marches to the drumbeats if war.

Happy birthday, good Sir! Your voice still echoes around the world.

About Gordon C. Stewart

Writer and radio commentator published by Minnesota Public Radio and "All things Considered," Star Tribune, MinnPost.com, Presbyterian Outlook, Sojourners' Blog with Jim Wallis and Friends, Chaska Herald. Host of Views from the Edge. Retired Pastor of Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, MN. Co-founder www.requiem2020.org. Former Executive Director, Legal Rights Center, Inc. (Minneapolis public defense corporation). Eat, drink and sleep theology and the news. Walking the trails of Jonathan Association in Chaska with Kay and our friend Barclay, the soccer playing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who loves to please.
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