Nature Canada

If I had a hammer – Ode to Pete Seeger, my hero

I was saddened to hear that one of my heros, Pete Seeger, has died at 94.  Humanist, environmentalist, activitist, and brilliant performer and song writer, Pete Seeger is an icon, and an important part of American history, and a shining light on the great things of America.   Key moments that have shaped the USA are woven into Seeger’s personna, the labour movement, persecution during McCarthyism, the environmental movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the restoration of the Hudson River. . . .   If you’ve sang, or hummed his song “If I had a hammer” you know a bit about Pete Seeger.

When I was teaching outdoor education with the Waterloo Region District School Board, I would use one of Pete’s songs occasionally for one of my indoor lessons.   It starts like this:
“Well gather round people, and sit yourself down
I’ll tell you a story of somebody’s town
It isn’t so near, and its not far away
It’s not a place where I’ld want to stay

and the people were scratching, all over the street
because the rabbits, had nothing to eat . . . .”

The children would be scatching their heads, throughout the song, a true lesson on food chains and ecology, wondering why people were scratching because rabbits had nothing to eat.   The answer came in the last verse.

Pete, you certainly inspired me and millions of others I have no doubt.  May your soul rest in peace, and your spirit and songs live on forever!

Ted Cheskey, an admirer of Pete Seeger


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