They Couldn’t Stand By

It’s a story everyone should know
It happened a half century ago
All across this sprawling nation
The rising of a generation
It started slow and then gained speed
Nobody knew where it would lead
First there were marches, then there were more
Way too many to keep score
They shut down classes, couldn’t learn
Once they ascertained how napalm burned
They had to find out how to defy
People stood up because they couldn’t stand by

There were parades held by the military brass
There were cities filled with CS gas
Real wars and war games
Recruitment centers up in flames
Light a match, then in a flash
Draft cards turned to ash
Thousands moved across the border
Refusing military orders
Every army base in the USA
Had an antiwar cafe
There are times when you just can’t comply

Soldiers insisted on free will
Put down their guns, refused to kill
Newspapers of the underground
Ubiquitously could be found
Across the country, across the sea
Throughout the ranks of the military
Take a grenade, pull out the pin
Praise be to Ho Chi Minh
Another fragging every night
A war that many refused to fight
Bombs were falling, some asked why

The ruling classes, with all their powers
Shook inside their ivory towers
They were brought to their knees back then
That’s why we don’t have the draft again
Even back then some of them knew
They had to be careful, what they tried to do
Rulers who miscalculate
Lose control of their ship of state
In order to govern you need consent
And all of that just up and went
In ’68 came the reply