From the recording By Breath

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My Name Is Lisa Kalvelage

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Words adapted and music by Pete Seeger © 1966 Sanga Music, Inc

“This story was in a newspaper clipping sent to me from San Jose, CA. In 1965, during the Vietnam War, Lisa Kalvelage and two other women, dressed in their Sunday best, stopped a shipment of napalm by standing on a loading platform, refusing to budge. She told this story to a newspaper reporter in court after being arrested.”
⎯Pete Seeger


My name is Lisa Kalvelage, born in Nuremburg
Where the trials were held there 19 years ago
Seemed to me ridiculous to hold a nation all to blame
For the horrors that the world did undergo

Short while later when I applied to be a GI bride
An American counselor official questioned me
He refused my exit permit, said my answer did not show
That I’d learned my lesson about responsibility

Suddenly I was forced to start thinking on this thing
And later when I was permitted to immigrate
I must‘ve been asked a hundred times, where I was,
what I did, in those years Hitler ruled our state

I said, “I was a child, at most a teenager.”
But that only continued the questioning
They’d ask where were my parents, my father, my mother
And to this I could not answer a thing

A seed planted there, Nuremberg in ‘47
Started to sprout and grow
Gradually I understood what that verdict meant to me
When there are crimes that I can see and know

And now I also know what it is to be charged with mass guilt
Once in a lifetime is enough for me
No, I couldn’t take it for a second time
And that’s why I am here today

The events of May 25th, the day of our protest
Put a small balance weight on the other side
And hopefully someday our contribution to peace
Will help just a bit to turn the tide

Perhaps I can tell it for our children’s sakes
And later on their own children
Then at least in the future they need not be silent
When they’re asked, “Where was your mother when..?”