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Top Ten Memorial Day Songs | The Nation

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Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Top Ten Memorial Day Songs

Memorial Day, first known as Decoration Day, originated in the North after the Civil War to commemorate fallen Union soldiers. By the twentieth century the holiday had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

I’ve always thought that the best way to honor the fallen is to make every effort to prevent needless deaths in the future.. That means avoiding unnecessary wars and engaging in combat only as a true last resort.

In this vein, here are my Top Ten Memorial Day Songs. The list is highly debatable; songs about war and attendant suffering cut across all musical genres. Though I proudly claim some hippie roots I’ve omitted classics like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,“ “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Imagine” and “Give Peace A Chance.” I’ve also given short  shrift to an important sub-genre of heavy metal antiwar anthems like Metallica’s 1989 classic, “One,” and ignored the rich history of punk rock odes to war.

Please use the comments field below to tell me what I’ve missed.

1. Loretta Lynn, Dear Uncle Sam

2. Bill Withers, I Can’t Write Left-Handed

3. Bob Dylan, Masters of War

4. Curtis Mayfield, We Gotta Have Peace

5. Elvis Costello, What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding

6. The Jam, Little Boy Soldiers

7. Freda Payne, Bring the Boys Home

8. Bob Marley, War/No More Trouble

9. Eric Bogle, The Green Fields of France

10. Paper Lace, Billy Don’t Be a Hero

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