The anniversary of Woodstock has been an annual celebration since the original event in 1969. So why is this upcoming fiftieth anniversary in 2019 different?
A fiftieth in itself is a milestone. It’s a golden anniversary, so this celebration is important simply because, as David Bryant commented online, it’s “mathematics”. If it were a wedding anniversary, it would be celebrated with gifts of gold. Apropos, since the people celebrating now are in their golden years. Woodstock was penned as a celebration of music and art, but it ended up being much more than that. It became a gathering to celebrate peace, love, music, and a counterculture that encouraged free love and free speech. It celebrated the opposition of war,political rule-making, and social constraints, something that resonates in our current socio & political environments, something that spans all generations. Teens in this current society are stepping up against social injustice around race & gender, gun laws & safety stemming from school shootings, and a political climate that discounts their ability to speak. This group is now finding their voice and standing up for their generation,generations of the past, and generations to come. It’s a cyclical rebellion whose time has again rolled around, perfectly aligned to the golden anniversary of Woodstock.
It’s also an important milestone because this could be a last hurrah for many of the kids who attended the original Woodstock in Bethel, NY. It’s reported that the average age of attendees back in 1969 was twenty-two. Those teenagers, on average, are now in their seventies. Not to mention the average age of organizers was twenty-four, who are also in their seventies. So as Jim Shelley commented online, the 50th is “one better than the 49th,” and every year that rolls around for this group is cause for celebration. But as this generation ages out of our society, we lose the stories that are at the heart of this history changing event. Like folklore and folk music, the people carry on the real stories and the essence of Woodstock and it’s up to use to save those memories. And that is the real reason why the 50th anniversary is so important. It’s a chance for us to share stories,remember, and educate a whole new generation about what Woodstock was really like and not a hollywoodized version of it.