Carlos Santana, one of Woodstock's rising stars, now plays elder statesman as the 40th anniversary of the music mega-bash draws near.

Okay, okay, I know watching the movie with your mom doesn’t count (even if you went on to watch it another 15 times). I know having all the LPs and posters and even an assortment of love beads doesn’t count either. But for a generation of wannabe flower children, three days of peace and music were the ultimate trip. We all dreamed of being at Woodstock.

If we had had our way, we would have all joined the Woodstock Nation: a colorful, ragtag bunch of 400,000 people who were about to experience the biggest event in rock-and-roll history. There we’d be, at the muddy stage, amid a mass of hipster humanity. We’d be singing anti-war protest songs with Country Joe and the Fish, grooving to “Hot Fun in the Summertime” with a fabulously ‘froed Sly and the Family Stone, and playing our air guitars alongside Pete Townsend and a microphone-swinging Roger Daltry as they led The Who in their riveting rock opera “Tommy.” We’d be kickin’ with Jimi and Janice and the Jefferson Airplane.

There were just a few things that got in our way: we weren’t old enough to drive, had homework to do and it was lights out by 9 p.m. We may have been sporting braces and training bras, and carrying book-bags to school, but that didn’t mean that we were too young to be in awe of the biggest musical event-ever!

We were freaks for the fashion-the fringe, the feathers, the bangles, the bandanas. There were out-of-this-world getups galore: Joe Cocker’s sweat-soaked, psychedelic tie-dye; Richie Havens’ flowing saffron tunic; Janice Joplin’s mind blowing boho style. It was the ultimate hippy high, wrapped up in trippy neon colors and surrounded by a plethora of peace signs.

But there weren’t just style statements. Woodstock channeled the voice of a generation-a group of wide-eyed kids who promoted love and peace. They were champions of the environment, women’s rights, equality and sanity. Most of all, they demanded an end to war, which they referred to as something “not healthy for children and other living things.”

It makes me wonder where that activist voice of change disappeared to in more recent times. Where were the hippies when we really needed them? It seemed like the entire nation just checked out.

Whether Woodstockers got jobs or SUVs, sold out or burned out, they were lucky enough to share a moment in time like no other. They hit a national nerve that turned the world on its head and forced everyone to stop and take notice. On this 40th anniversary, we can only hope the spirit of peace and love lives on.

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