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After 40 Years, The Bed-In Reawakens

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After 40 Years, The Bed-In Reawakens

After 40 Years, The Bed-In Reawakens

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We've had lots of 40th anniversaries this year. Boomers busy remembering Woodstock and the sight of a man on the moon. Here, a slightly more unusual one - the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-In. That was when the two used their honeymoon to talk about peace from a hotel bed, first in Amsterdam and then in Montreal. Now, an international peace group has resurrected the Bed-In, using the symbol for its own peace effort. NPR's Margo Adler reports.

MARGO ADLER: The photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono talking from their hotel bed with signs above them saying Bed Peace and Hair Peace are perhaps more iconic in Europe than in America, because the Bed-Ins took place outside the United States. Lennon and Ono decided to use the publicity of their honeymoon to promote their own views about peace during a time of Cold War and the Vietnam War. Lennon sang about the Bed-In in "The Ballad of John and Yoko"

(Soundbite of song, "The Ballad of John and Yoko")

Mr. JOHN LENNON (Musician): (Singing) Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton. Talking in our beds for a week. The newspapers said, Hey, what are you doing in bed? I said, We're only trying to get us some peace. Christ, you know it ain't easy.

ADLER: After Lennon was refused into New York because of a marijuana conviction, the couple ended up in Montreal for the second Bed-In, where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance" with a bunch of their friends.

Since then, several artists have used the bed theme. And this year, an international peace group - The World March for Peace and Nonviolence - decided to bring back the bed to promote hundreds of global peace events taking place in every continent over the next few months. Their issue: the continued danger and spread of nuclear weapons.

So in Central Park on a recent weekend there was a big bed with white sheets and fluffy pillows and flowers. And anyone could take the microphone, sit on the bed and say their piece on peace. High-school teacher Gina Moss said sitting on the peace-bed her goal is…

Ms. GINA MOSS (High-school teacher): To listen more and learn how to work out differences and learn how to move away from trying to overpower those who disagree.

ADLER: And that was the interesting thing. Most of the statements were personal not political. Perhaps 125 people at any one time gathered around the bed. But the event was only yards from Strawberry Field and the Dakota, so any tourists who wanted to pay homage to John Lennon could easily find the bed.

Laurie and Cameron Miller, mother and son, were visiting from Whittier, California.

Ms. LAURIE MILLER: We came to Strawberry Field. And when we were there and found out about this, here we are.

ADLER: A Mexican runner who had just participated in a half-marathon stepped up to the bed, still wearing his number and his medal. People read poems in various languages. Gail Neva(ph) and Glenn Powell brought their baby Matthew to sit on the bed. Peace, said Powell…

Mr. GLENN POWELL: Begins at the deli in the morning with my coffee and try to carry that through the day. And maybe that helps a little bit, you know.

Ms. GAIL NEVA: Recently Glenn decided that all world leaders should bring babies to the negotiating table with them and then there would be peace.

ADLER: Chris Wells is the North American spokesperson for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence. He says Lennon and Ono had a vision.

Mr. CHRIS WELLS (Spokesman, World March for Peace and Nonviolence): They asked us to imagine a world without violence. It is a call that remains unfulfilled.

ADLER: After their Bed-In, Lennon and Ono sent acorns to heads of state and tried unsuccessfully to meet with them. Chris Wells and the organizers of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence are hoping their events will have more of an effect.

MARGO ADLER, NPR News, New York.

(Soundbite of song, "Give Peace a Chance")

JOHN LENNON, YOKO ONO, and OTHERS: (Singing) All we are saying is give peace a chance. All we are saying is give peace a chance.

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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