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Woodstock

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One didn't simply go to Woodstock: one lived through it. In August 1969, the

Woodstock Festival was the largest counterculture event ever staged, attracting some

500,000 people and featuring many of the country's top acts. Two decades later,

Woodstock has come to mean more than just "three days of fun and music"; it

symbolizes a time of community, exuberance, and intensity since lost. Woodstock

festival gave power to the youth, united people of all ages, races, and sexes, and defined

a generation, making it one of the most important musical events of all time.

In order to understand the impact and importance of the Woodstock Festival one

must first examine the society that preceded the 1960's and set the stage so to speak for

the events of the Woodstock Festival. The end of World War II brought thousands of

young servicemen back to America to pick up their lives and start new families in new

home and new jobs. With energy never before experienced, American industry

expanded to meet peacetime needs. Americans began buying goods not available during

the war, which created corporate expansion and jobs. Growth was everywhere. The

baby boom was underway. Part of the what happened in the 1950's with increased

employment and income, families had more money to buy things. People could afford

single family dwellings and suburbia was born . In the 1950's a big change happened in

public education. In 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the Supreme

Court ruled that separate facilities for blacks did not make those facilities equal according

to the Constitution . Integration of the public classroom came about across the nation as

a result of this action.

Perhaps one of the things which most characterize the 1950's was a strong

element of conservatism and anticommunist felling which ran throughout much of

society. The phrase "under God" was added to the pledge of Allegiance. Religion was

linked with anti-communism mind-set. Fifties clothing was conservative. Men wore

grey flannel suits and women wore dresses. Male and female stereotypes were strongly

reinforced, girls played with Barbie Dolls and boys played with guns.

When the 1950's are mentioned, the first type of music to come to most people's

mind is rock 'n roll. Developed from a blend of Southern blues and gospel music with an

added strong back beat, this type of music was popular with teenagers who were trying to

break out of the mainstream conservative American middle class mold . Popular musical

artists such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis set the groundwork for what was to

come in the rock music of the 1960's.

Another element of American culture and society that must be examined to

understand the 1960's is the onset of the war in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was the

longest military conflict in U.S. history. The hostilities in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. The Vietnam War was a military

struggle fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975, involving the North Vietnamese and the

National Liberation Front (NLF) in conflict with the United States forces and the South

Vietnamese army. In 1965 the United States sent in troops in Vietnam to prevent the

South Vietnamese government from collapsing and turning to communism.

It was into this climate that the "Hippie" counterculture of the 1960's was born.

The sixties was an age of the youth. A movement away from the conservative fifties

continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in

cultural fabric of American life. The youth of the 1960's were not happy to be clones of

the generation ahead of them. Young people wanted change. The changes the youth

would bring about affected education, values, lifestyle, laws and entertainment.

In the sixties civil rights started to make big changes to the culture. People like

Malcolm X preached black superiority, and organized non-violent and violent protests. In

1964 the birth control pill was discovered, and in Colorado it became legal to get an

abortion. The Hippie counterculture developed the lifestyle of "free love". Women's

liberation was demonstrated in public "bra burnings". The visible signs of the

counterculture were felt throughout American society. Hair grew longer and beards

became common. Blue jeans and t-shirts replaced

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