3 Days of Peace and Music, 40 Years of Memory

3 Days of Peace and Music, 40 Years of Memory 1

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This year’s 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival brings a rush of books, movies, and exhibits. But its meaning as a symbol of innocence, a moment apart from the darker side of the 60s, writes the author, “is mostly an accident of historical memory, plus a little serendipity.”

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Bettmann, Corbis

This year’s 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival brings a rush of books, movies, and exhibits. But its meaning as a symbol of innocence, a moment apart from the darker side of the 60s, writes the author, “is mostly an accident of historical memory, plus a little serendipity.”

In describing the 1913 reunion of Union and Confederate veterans at Gettysburg, the historian David Blight noted that "the veterans were men out of another time, icons that stimulated a sense of pride, history, and amusement all at once." To Americans of a younger generation who attended or read about the commemorative events, the veterans "were at once the embodiment of Civil War nostalgia, symbols of a lost age of heroism, and the fulfillment of that most human of needs—civic and