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Commentary ::
The Vietnam War and Anti-War Veterans
04 Sep 2004
The lessons of this story have EVERYTHING to do with the war on Iraq and other current realities. American opposition to the war against Vietnam grew slowly but steadily during the 1960s, as US military involvement intensified and American casualties mounted. Antiwar activists saw that the US could only achieve victory in Vietnam through massive destruction, and the war came to be viewed as racist and genocidal. The war became the number one issue in the minds of Americans, and thousands of groups sprang up nationwide to organize opposition. One such group was the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Never in living memory had US veterans organized against the very war in which they had fought. At first, its numbers were small. In 1967 a mere six veterans marched in a New York City protest, but by spring 1970, the VVAW had 600 members... soon there would be thousands.
Click on image for a larger version

vietvets.JPG
VIETNAM WAR & ANTIWAR VETS
From April 19th to April 23, 1971, VVAW led thousands of veterans in Washington in demonstrations called "Operation Dewey Canyon III". The vets were dressed in their jungle fatigues, with many wearing the medals they had won in combat. A good number of the soldiers had long hair, a badge of dissident America at the time. The vets called their demonstration "a limited incursion into the country of Congress." On April 19th, over 1,000 veterans and mothers of soldiers killed in Vietnam marched to Arlington Cemetery to honor their fallen comrades and loved ones... they were locked out and denied entry. The march reformed and made its way to the Capital

When the veterans approached Congress, they were greeted by antiwar Congress persons, Paul McClosky, Bella Abzug, Donald Edwards, and Ogden Reid. Some vets established a campsite on the grassy quadrangle between 3rd & 4th streets. Some went directly into the halls of Congress to lobby against the war, still others performed guerilla theatre in which the soldiers paraded around with toy guns as they conducted "search and destroy missions" on the streets of Washinton.

On April 20th, around 200 veterans attended hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on proposals to end the war. Vets lobbied all day in Congress. John Kerry testified against the war during those hearings.

On April 21st, around 50 veterans marched to the Pentagon in an attempt to turn themselves in as war criminals. They were not arrested. Lobbying continued on Capital Hill and more guerilla theatre was performed in front of the Justice Department.

On April 22nd, a huge group of veterans marched to the steps of the Supreme Court to demand the Court rule the war unconstitutional. As the vets sang "God Bless America", one hundred and ten of them were arrrested for "disturbing the peace". Later that evening, hundreds of vets staged a candlelight march around the White House. They carried a huge American flag upside down as a signal of distress.

The most electrifying protest came on April 23rd, when hundreds of vets returned their medals and ribbons. A thousand of more veterans gathered at the steps of the Capital, around which the authorities had erected a large security fence. The press was there in force. One by one, veterans stepped up to the fence... and THREW their medals at the Capital building. Each vet stepped up to a microphone to give his name and rank... many made statements against the war and Nixon, some spoke of the shame they felt for the acts they committed against the Vietnamese, still others expressed love for the fellow soldiers they left behind... slain on the battlefield for nothing. The demonstration was broadcast nationally and inflamed passions against the war.

Later that day, Senators George McGovern and Philip Hart held hearings on atrocities committed by US soldiers in Vietnam. The vets began breaking their camp, a planted a tree as a symbolic plea for the preservation of life and the environment. Operation Dewey Canyon III was over. There was not a single act of violence committed. The imperialist aggression continued.

On April 24, 1971, the day after the veteran's protest ended, over 500,000 demonstrators arrived in Washington to "stop the government" if Nixon did not stop the war.

****

For more info about the WINTER SOLDIER INVESTIGATION, and the tesitmony antiwar veterans gave before the US Senate, visit:
http://lists.village.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Resources/Primary/Wi

For more photos of Operation Dewey Canyon III, visit:
http://www.greenberet.net/Kerry/VVAW/dewey3.htm

This work is in the public domain
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Re: The Vietnam War and Anti-War Veterans
05 Sep 2004
Vietnam was a corporate war.
Iraq is a corporate war.
Difference?
Not much.
United States should get the hell out of Iraq!