Country Joe McDonald delivered perhaps the best-remembered anti-war song of the time. A darkly satirical critique of the war, “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” added heft because Country Joe had earned military stripes in the Navy.
Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate,
Send your sons off before it’s too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.
The song was a savage swipe at what the anti-war movement considered American hypocrisy. “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixing-to-Die” was a long way from “blowing in the wind,” Dylan’s rueful and elusive answer to the question of how many more would have to die.
The increasing anger within the anti-war movement peaked during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Nixon was elected in 1968 on a platform that included a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam and a promise to “bring us together”; however, Nixon’s Vietnam policy further divided the nation. While Nixon did decrease the number of troops in Vietnam, he also ordered secret bombings of North Vietnamese supply routes that ran through neutral Cambodia.
When, in April of 1970, Nixon decided to send troops into Cambodia, campuses across the country erupted in protests and a strike of hundreds of thousands students on more than 700 campuses. On May 4, four Kent State students were killed and nine were wounded by Ohio National Guardsmen, and ten days later two were killed at Jackson State College.
After seeing photos from the Kent State massacre, singer-songwriter