WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rocker John Mellencamp and folk singer Joan Baez are both vehemently against the war in Iraq, but only one of them was permitted to perform for recovering wounded U.S. soldiers last week.
Mellencamp has sung many anti-war tunes but left politics out of his performance last week at Walter Reed Medical Center, a concert he put together after learning of the poor living conditions and bureaucratic delays soldiers experienced there.
He invited Baez to join him, but days before the concert she said that the Army told her she was not welcome.
“Four days before the concert, I was not ‘approved’ by the Army to take part,” Baez said in a letter published by the Washington Post on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Walter Reed did not return calls seeking comment.
Baez said she has always advocated non-violence and had refused during the Vietnam conflict to sing for the forces then because she felt it would have condoned a war that was ripping apart the country.
“I realize now that I might have contributed to a better welcome home for those soldiers fresh from Vietnam,” Baez wrote. “Maybe that’s why I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation to sing for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Her publicist had no immediate comment.
Baez is no stranger to Iraq war protests. In August 2005 she appeared alongside protester Cindy Sheehan whose son died in the conflict and had set up camp near President George W. Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch seeking a second meeting with him.
An attempt to reach a representative for Mellencamp was not immediately successful.
Before the concert, he told MSNBC News that the concert was not about politics and he was “going down there and showing support for these kids who really don’t make any policies and who basically are following orders.”