This particular protest involved many veterans from the war. Everybody who was a leader in the Monterey chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War had their phones tapped and were followed. With a population that ran into millions, it could be argued that they represented a very small minority of the city. This event actually highlighted to the US public the enormous strain frontline troops were experiencing on a daily basis against a supposedly inferior enemy. Hey! Women staffed those. A few months later a group of people in Ann Arbor [Michigan] started the action, which they called a “teach-in.” Classrooms were used for debate, discussion, forums about the war. The first was film of children running away from their village having been burned by napalm and the second was the summary execution of a Vietcong suspect by a South Vietnamese police chief on the streets of Saigon in 1968. The FBI came to look for my parents to find out more about me. At first, the protests started in general opposition to the war in Vietnam. People like Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda and others organized a campaign to get Congress to stop appropriating money for the war. From Bob Dylan to the Beatles, a number of notable music artists penned tunes that criticized the United States involvement in perhaps the […] Peck: On a good day we wanted America to live up to its promise. The war that had been sold to the US public as one where victory was guaranteed was in reality taking many young lives. Canton: I was one of those poor white draftees. Once I got out I joined the Monterey chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Before his days as a leading member of the Yippie movement, Hoffman was involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and organized Liberty House, which sold items to support the civil rights movement in the southern United States. The protest was also important in suggesting that the domestic Cold War consensus was beginning to fracture. More than 50,000 of the protesters marched to the Pentagon to It was almost a Revolution of the Week Club. The black communities were exploding. The war that had been sold to the US public as one where victory was guaranteed was in reality taking many young lives. Early protests. Flacks: I would argue that at the time, the best interests of this country were not served by a leadership getting us into war but [by] the people who were trying to stop the war. Many young men and women claimed that they wanted to ‘drop out’ of society. Peck: People got extraordinarily frustrated. Many veterans used the opportunity to throw their medals on the steps of the Capitol building. Flacks: If you add up the numbers of protests after Kent State, it is the largest mass demonstration in American history. Rothstein: Things have changed. The world’s media also played into this. I think in retrospect, what I did was in the best interests of the country. Swing States Revealed a Nation Plagued by Misinformation, You can unsubscribe at any time. The protests against the war started to pick up when body bags started to return to America in increasing numbers. All Rights Reserved. It was brilliant. Next, be sure read about how Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon prolonged the Vietnam War. Flacks: The founding people and elected leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society were on [an FBI] list. I was in the field three weeks when I got wounded the first time. But there was antiwar material there and underground newspapers. But when she heard me speak about my trip to Vietnam, she got herself involved. Flacks: The draft was an expression of this militaristic, imperial power that we were opposed to. My dad was a liberal Democrat, very working class. Canton: The reason we were out protesting was because we cared. The most infamous was the My Lai massacre. . From that I got invited to go to North Vietnam. They supported me. Here, during a sit-down with Levy in Santa Barbara, California, this group discusses not only their shared antiwar past but how they view their legacy today. My pivotal moment was driving to the Pentagon Demonstration in 1967. There was a concept of “right action”—that this was really the thing to do. Got wounded. LIFE: How were women in the antiwar movement viewed? To some, especially the young, America was not only sacrificing her male youth but the government was also sanctioning the death of children not only in South Vietnam but also in the North with the blanket bombing raids that were occurring on almost a daily basis. But in 1971, when the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the press, the mood shifted. It seemed to the protesters to summarise exactly why America should not be in South Vietnam. LBJ! Finally, check out some of the most incredible Woodstock photos that will transport you back to 1969. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our, 'There Was All This Chaos': Vietnam-Era Antiwar Activists Reflect. Flacks: Both Johnson and Nixon said explicitly that no matter what public opinion said about the war, it would go on. LIFE: What was your experience with the mistreatment of vets? That really took hold. In 1967, 100,000 took part in a protest rally in Washington DC. . Then I got invited by Tom Hayden to go to a conference in 1967 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, to meet representatives of the provisional revolutionary government in South Vietnam, to actually meet the grass-roots opposition in South Vietnam. More than 50,000 of the protesters marched to the Pentagon to ask for an end to the conflict. In the McCarthy Red Scare era, they both were purged along with several hundred other left-wing, commie-oriented teachers. Actress Jane Fonda is famous for being an activist for most of her professional career, advocating for a number of issues. Peck: My parents weren’t radicals at all. I feel it took too long to end the war. The president even went so far as to call General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, back to the United States to address Congress and the public. LIFE’s book The Vietnam Wars: 50 Years Ago–Two Countries Torn Apart is available here.
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