Jim Ryan, a photograph reflecting the idea that many wealthy men were able to get draft deferments while racial minorities and working-class men made up a disproportionate number of draftees, c1970.
Photo by Jim Ryan, 1976. Used with permission.
1.What were the main arguments of Vietnam War protesters?
2.What methods were used to protest the Vietnam War?
3.Why did some Americans consider the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic?
4.Why did the Vietnam War protesters consider themselves patriotic?
8th Grade Patriotism Inquiry
Is Protest Patriotic?
New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices
8.9 DOMESTIC POLITICS AND REFORM: The civil rights movement and the Great Society were attempts by people and the government to address major social, legal, economic, and environmental problems. Subsequent economic recession called for a new economic program.
Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence Economics and Economic Systems Civic Participation
Staging the Question
Students read excerpts from Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis (1776) and use the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to generate companion questions addressing the inquiry topic.
Supporting Question 1
Supporting Question 2
Supporting Question 3
Supporting Question 4
What were the main arguments of Vietnam War protesters?
What methods were used to protest the Vietnam War?
Why did some Americans consider the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic?
Why did the Vietnam War protesters consider themselves patriotic?
Create a political, social, and economic chart outlining the arguments used by Vietnam War protesters.
Create an annotated poster of the methods used to protest the Vietnam War.
Make a claim with evidence about why some Americans considered the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic.
Make a counterclaim about why some Americans considered the Vietnam War protesters patriotic.
Source A: Data bank: Vietnam War statistics
Source B: My Lai Massacre newspaper front page
Source C: Excerpt fromJohn Kerry’s testimony to the United States Senate
Source D: Image Bank: Escalation into Cambodia
Source A: “War”
Source B: Source bank: Vietnam War protests
Source C: Image bank: Weather Underground
Source A: “Legislators Demand Stiff Penalties for Dow Chemical Protesters”
Source B: Excerpt from “Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam”
Source C: Source bank: Hardhat rallies
Source A: Excerpt from “Naming the System”
Source B:Excerpt from "A Time to Break Silence”
Summative Performance Task
ARGUMENT Is protest patriotic? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
EXTENSION Adapt these arguments by rewriting the lyrics to a popular song to address the compelling question while also referring to specific details and evidence from the featured sources.
Taking Informed Action
UNDERSTAND Examine the present-day involvement of the US military in a conflict overseas.
ASSESS Analyze the arguments of those opposed to the action and the patriotism of their actions against US military involvement overseas.
ACT Using assorted media platforms, design and create a presentation that conveys support or opposition to America’s current military involvement overseas.
This inquiry is focused on the compelling question “Is protest patriotic?” The question challenges the notion that protest against authority is unpatriotic and asks students to consider whether America’s democratic institutions are strengthened through occasional opposition to American leadership. This inquiry deals with the Vietnam War era (1964–1973), focusing primarily on the national and international challenges America faced during the presidential administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Students have an opportunity to learn about the reasons for and against the antiwar protests of the Vietnam War era, the methods used to protest the Vietnam War, and the ways in which America’s towns, schools, and families were divided over war policy. In investigating the compelling question, students grapple with issues related to message versus method: Could one agree with the message of antiwar protesters while disdaining the methods of protest? Could one support Nixon’s goal to stem the spread of communism while protesting the bombing of Vietnamese and Cambodian villages? This inquiry challenges students to examine their own views on patriotism and evaluate whether a soldier with a rifle and a protester with a bullhorn can be equally patriotic.
In addition to the Key Idea listed earlier, this inquiry highlights the following Conceptual Understanding:
(8.9c) The Great Society programs of President Lyndon Johnson strengthened efforts aimed at reducing poverty and providing health care for the elderly, but the Vietnam War drained resources and divided society.
NOTE: This inquiry is expected to take four to six 40-minute class periods. The inquiry time frame could expand if teachers think their students need additional instructional experiences (i.e., supporting questions, formative performance tasks, and featured sources). Teachers are encouraged to adapt the inquiries in order to meet the needs and interests of their particular students. Resources can also be modified as necessary to meet individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 Plans for students with disabilities.
Structure of the Inquiry
In addressing the compelling question “Is protest patriotic?” students work through a series of supporting questions, formative performance tasks, and featured sources in order to construct an argument supported by evidence while acknowledging competing perspectives.
Staging the Compelling Question
Students read excerpts from Thomas Paine’s The Crisis (1776) and use the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to generate companion questions addressing the inquiry topic. QFT is a useful tool for developing questions that consists of six deceptively simple steps—determine the question focus, brainstorm questions, refine the emerging questions, prioritize the questions, determine the next steps, and reflect.
Supporting Question 1
The first supporting question—“What were the main arguments of Vietnam War protesters?”—lays a foundation for the inquiry by focusing on the issues highlighted by antiwar protesters throughout the Vietnam War. Born during or in the wake of World War II, a generation of college students and young adults had come of age during the Eisenhower prosperity of the late 1950s and the promise of the Kennedy years of the early 1960s. Some of these young people sought independence from the conformity of the era, breaking with their parents in areas as varied as fashion, music, and cinema—as well as with Vietnam War politics. The formative performance task asks students to create a chart that highlights the political, social, and economic arguments presented by Vietnam War protesters. The featured sources include a data bank of statistics related to the Vietnam War, excerpts from John Kerry’s Senate testimony, the front page of a newspaper announcing the My Lai massacre, and an image bank reflecting the escalation of the war into Cambodia.
Supporting Question 2
The second supporting question—“What methods were used to protest the Vietnam War?”—builds on the first, but has a narrower focus on the methods used to protest the Vietnam War. The formative performance task asks students to create an annotated poster that highlights the varied tactics and techniques protesters used. The featured sources provide students with a sampling of these tactics. Featured Source A, the song “War,” performed by Edwin Starr and written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, captured the sentiments of many Americans who, after half a decade, had lost any hope that the Vietnam War could have a positive outcome. Featured Sources B and C are image banks featuring peaceful and violent forms of protest, respectively.
Supporting Question 3
The third supporting question—“Why did some Americans consider the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic?”—suggests that Americans were not united in their opposition to the Vietnam War and that some were disdainful of antiwar protesters and their ideological viewpoints. The formative performance task calls on students to make a claim about why some Americans considered the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic. Featured Source A is a set of excerpts from President Richard Nixon’s speech on American opposition to the war and his call to the “silent majority” for their support and commitment to America’s continued involvement in Southeast Asia. Featured Source B is a newspaper account of the Wisconsin legislature’s debate about students protesting the Vietnam War. Featured Source C introduces the ways in which the Vietnam War divided everyday Americans: The Hard Hat Riot of May 8, 1970 has come to symbolize the anger many Americans—particularly the middle class—had for the antiwar protesters who they perceived as entitled and ungrateful.
Supporting Question 4
The final supporting question—“Why did the Vietnam War protesters consider themselves patriotic?”—introduces the position that antiwar protesters saw themselves as patriots fighting injustice, the imperialistic ambitions of the United States, and moral weakness. The formative performance task calls on students to make a counterclaim in response to the previous formative performance task, which focused on the idea that some Americans considered the Vietnam War protesters unpatriotic. The featured sources include two speeches: Paul Potter’s “Naming the System” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “A Time to Break the Silence.” Both speeches address weaknesses in America’s character that were exposed by continued involvement and support of the war in Vietnam.
Summative Performance Task
At this point in the inquiry, students have examined the reasons and tactics used by Vietnam War protesters and have examined sources suggesting that the protests were both patriotic and unpatriotic. Students should be able to demonstrate the breadth of their understandings and their abilities to use evidence from multiple sources to support their claims. In this task, students construct an evidence-based argument using multiple sources to answer the compelling question “Is protest patriotic?” It is important to note that students’ arguments could take a variety of forms, including a detailed outline, poster, or essay.
Students’ arguments will likely vary, but could include any of the following:
Protesting the actions of one’s country in a time of war is unpatriotic because it gives motivation to the enemy.
Protesting the actions of one’s country in a time of war is patriotic so long as the war is unjust and the methods of protest are peaceful.
The anti–Vietnam war protesters exercised their constitutional right to criticize their government peacefully and thus acted patriotically.
The anti–Vietnam war protesters went too far in their protests, risked the safety of American soldiers abroad, and thus brought shame to themselves and their country.
Students could extend the arguments by rewriting the lyrics to a popular song to address the compelling question while also referring to specific details and evidence from the sources.
Students have the opportunity to Take Informed Action by examining a current protest. Students can understand the issue by examining the present-day involvement of the US military in a conflict overseas. Students can then assess the issue by evaluating the arguments of those opposed to the protest and those who see it as patriotic. And they can then act on what they have learned by using various media platforms to design a presentation that indicates support or opposition for America’s current military involvement overseas. Students may present their work in a classroom or school-wide setting.
Staging the Compelling Question
Source A: Thomas Paine, a passage from an essay in The American Crisis (excerpt), December 23, 1776
NOTE: Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense was the clarion call that began the American Revolution. As George Washington's troops retreated from New York through New Jersey, Paine again rose to the challenge of literary warfare. With The American Crisis, he delivered the words that would salvage the revolution.
Washington commanded that the freshly printed pamphlet be read aloud to his dispirited men; the rousing prose had its intended effect. Reciting Paine's impassioned words, the beleaguered troops mustered their remaining hopes for victory and crossed the icy Delaware River to defeat hung over Hessians on Christmas night and, on January 2, the British army's best general, Earl Cornwallis, at the Battle of Princeton. With victory in New Jersey, Washington won not only two battles but also the love and thanks of men and women.
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but “to bind us in all cases whatsoever,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Supporting Question 1
Source A: Data bank: Vietnam War statistics
Chart 1: Public perception of the Vietnam War.
Jodie T. Allen. “Polling Wars: Hawks vs. Doves.” Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, November 23, 2009. http://www.pewresearch.org/2009/11/23/polling-wars-hawks-vs-doves/.
Chart 2: Chart of United States troop deaths in the Vietnam War.
Supporting Question 1
Source B: Cleveland Plain Dealer, front-page reporting on the My Lai Massacre, November 29, 1969
The Plain Dealer front page on November 20, 1969. Used with Permission of Landov media.Bottom of Form
Photo: Ronald L. Haeberle. The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images.
Supporting Question 1
Source C:John Kerry, testimony to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a representative of a group of Vietnam veterans opposed to the war (excerpts), April 22, 1971
Feelings of Men Coming Back from Vietnam
...In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart....
We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.
We found most people didn’t even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese, or American.
We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies.
We saw firsthand how money from American taxes was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, as blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs as well as by search and destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism, and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong.
We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.
We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals.
We watched the U.S. falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts. We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against “Oriental human beings,” with quotation marks around that. We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater....
Request for Action by Congress
We are asking here in Washington for some action, action from the Congress of the United States of America, which has the power to raise and maintain armies, and which by the Constitution also has the power to declare war.
We have come here, not to the president, because we believe that this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and we believe that the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now....
Public domain. Available at the faculty page of Dr. Ernest Bolt, University of Richmond: https://facultystaff.richmond.edu/~ebolt/history398/johnkerrytestimony.html.
Supporting Question 1
Source D: Image Bank: Escalation into Cambodia
Image 1: Herblock, political cartoon critical of US involvement in the Vietnam War, “Now, as I Was Saying Four Years Ago,” 1972.
Herblock, cartoon critical of US involvement in the Vietnam War, “Now, as I Was Saying Four Years Ago,” 1972
Source 1: Jim Ryan, a photograph reflecting the idea that many wealthy men were able to get draft deferments while racial minorities and working-class men made up a disproportionate number of draftees, c1970.
Clay Guilty in Draft Case; Gets Five Years in Prison
U.S. Judge Also Fines the Boxer $10,000 for Refusing Induction
By MARTIN WALDRON
Houston, June 20--Cassius Clay, the deposed heavyweight champion, was convicted by a jury tonight of violating the United States Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted.
Federal District Judge Joe E. Ingraham sentenced Clay to five years in prison and fined him $10,000. This was the maximum penalty for the offense, which is a felony.
The judge's sentence was pronounced immediately at Clay's request.
"I'd appreciate it," the 25-year-old boxer said, "if the court will do it now, give me my sentence now, instead of waiting and stalling for time."
His lawyers said he "wants to be able to sleep tonight" without worrying what the sentence would be.
Clay, who had contended that his status as a Black Muslim minister made him exempt from the draft, stood passively in front of the judge's bench as the judge pronounced sentence.
Every eye in the crowded courtroom was on him as he stared straight ahead, saying, "No, sir," firmly when the judge asked him if he wanted to say anything that might go toward mitigating his sentence.
Before the sentencing, Morton Susman, United States Attorney, indicated that he would file no objection to the judge's giving Clay a lighter sentence than the maximum.
"The only record he has is a minor traffic offense," said Mr. Susman.
He said that Clay, as an athlete, had brought honor to the United States by winning in the Olympics in Rome in 1960, and had brought credit to himself by becoming heavyweight champion of the world.
"He became a Muslim in 1964 after defeating Sonny Liston for the title," said Mr. Susman. "In my opinion, his trouble started with that--this tragedy and the loss of his title can be traced to that."
After Clay had refused in April to take the Army induction oath, the World Boxing Association and the New York Athletic Commission stripped him of his title.
Mr. Susman, who was aided in the prosecution by a Negro assistant, Carl Walker, said that he had studied the Muslim order "and it is as much political as it is religious."
Clay, who had stood stiffly in his gray silk suit and black alligator shoes without speaking, could keep quiet no longer.
"If I can say so, sir," he said, "my religion is not political in no way."
There were a number of Muslim members in the courtroom for the verdict and the subsequent sentencing, but there was no outcry and no disturbance. A number of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were watching the audience along with Federal marshals.
The jury, six men and six women, all white, stayed in the jury box during the sentencing.
Clay's attorneys, Hayden C. Covington of New York City and Quinnan A. Hodges of Houston, took exception to Mr. Susman's remarks about the Muslims.
Mr. Covington, who has won civil rights suits for Jehovah's Witnesses, a religious sect, in a number of constitutional cases, said: "I take exception to remarks that this man is under the influence of the Muslims in any way."
Clay, he said, is one of the finest men he has ever met and acted from "sincerity and honesty" when he refused last April 28 to step forward and be inducted into the armed services at Houston.
Both Mr. Covington and Mr. Hodges asked Judge Ingraham to put Clay on probation. Failing that, said Mr. Covington, the former champion should not be given a sentence more severe than those given in a similar cases. "That's 18 months," he said.
Judge Ingraham, after being told that Clay's attorneys would appeal, said that now was not the time to ask for clemency. If the conviction should be thrown out on appeal, "the sentence would be nil," he said, but if it should be upheld, that would be the time to seek a reduction in sentence or to seek probation.
Clay, who had known both applause and boos in his seven years as a boxer, did not seem downcast at today's turn of events.
His step was as jaunty as ever as he walked from the courtroom after being released on $5,000 bond. He held hands with two young women who had been with him during intermissions in the trial and he smiled at the crowd that gathered around. He allowed the television cameramen to surround him and shuffle him off down the street.
The jury was out considering the verdict for only about 20 minutes. Everyone knew before it retired that Clay would be convicted. He and his lawyers had not attempted to deny that he had refused induction. Their main contention was that the draft boards in Louisville, Ky., and in Houston had acted improperly in not granting him a deferment as a minister.
After Judge Ingraham had ruled that a study of the huge draft board file of the Clay case had convinced him that the draft boards had not acted "arbitrarily or capriciously" in refusing the deferment. Clay's conviction became a foregone conclusion.
Pays No Attention
Clay paid no attention to the legal maneuvering during the day. He sat at the defense table, drawing and chewing gum.
During recesses, while Clay stood out in the corridors in the Federal Courthouse and signed autographs for children, one of his attorneys showed reporters some of the drawings that Clay had made. One showed an airplane flying over a heavily wooded mountain range toward the rising sun. Another portrayed a ship sailing head-on into a fjord between two mountain ranges.
Clay himself exhibited other drawings--mystic symbols, clouds and so forth. One was an elaborate sketch of the words "Muhammad Ali," which is his Muslim name.
In all, the jury heard only an hour or so of testimony, most of it from government witnesses.
Source 4: Martin Waldron, article about Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) being found guilty of avoiding the draft, New York Times, June 21, 1967.
Image 2: Artist unknown, poster reflecting the planned demonstrations by the Weather Underground, a faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in Chicago from October 9 to 11, 1969.
Special Collections Library at the University of Washington, email@example.com.
Image 3: Federal Bureau of Investigation, most wanted bulletin with 20 people connected to the Weather Underground faction of the Students for a Democratic Society, c1970.
Supporting Question 3
Source A: Robert Meloon, newspaper article about student protests against the Vietnam War at the University of Wisconsin, “Legislators Demand Stiff Penalties for Dow Chemical Protesters,” The Capital Times (excerpts), October 1967
NOTE: Soon after student protests against Dow Chemical (manufacturers of napalm) turned violent, University of Wisconsin officials were called on the carpet at the state house. Legislators suspected their state university of housing communists, inciting treasonous behavior, and importing activists from other parts of the nation to stir things up. Madison's liberal afternoon newspaper, The Capital Times, was losing readership, partly because of its antiwar position; it covered the legislature's reactions in this article.
Strict disciplining of campus demonstrators was demanded Wednesday by state legislators after they received a report on the violence from Lt. Gov. Jack Olson.
The Assembly adopted 94 to 5 a resolution calling for stiff penalties for the students and expulsion “whenever necessary.”
The resolution called the protests “a flagrant abuse and perversion of the treasured traditions of academic freedoms....”
In his talk to the legislators, Lt. Gov. Olson also called for a get-tough policy at the University.
“Anyone who has taken part in this type of riot has no place in the University,” he said.
In the Senate, Sen. Leland McParland (D-Cudahy) said he was “sick of students running the University.”
“We should shoot them if necessary,” McParland said. “I would, I would, because it’s insurrection,” he added....
“Communism is on that University campus and it’s operating today,” [Sen. Gordon] Roseleip [(R-Darlington)] said. He called for a legislative investigation of the demonstrations.
Sen. Ernest Keppler (R-Sheboygan) cautioned the senators that “we are dealing with only a small percentage of the student body.”
“But we should deal with them severely,” he added....
Assemblyman Edward Mertz (D-Milwaukee) called the students “long-haired, greasy pigs” and insisted the Legislature should take over running the University....
[Assemblyman Harvey] Dueholm [(D-Luck)] called the Assembly’s action “mass hysteria.”
“Let the law take its course but we shouldn’t sit here and tell them what to do,” he said. “I think the Regents can run the University.”
Source B: Richard Nixon, speech about the progress of the Vietnam War, “Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam” (excerpts), November 3, 1969
In speaking of the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal, I mentioned that our allies would lose confidence in America.
Far more dangerous, we would lose confidence in ourselves. Oh, the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our men were coming home. But as we saw the consequences of what we had done, inevitable remorse and divisive recrimination would scar our spirit as a people.
We have faced other crises in our history and have become stronger by rejecting the easy way out and taking the right way in meeting our challenges. Our greatness as a nation has been our capacity to do what had to be done when we knew our course was right.
I recognize that some of my fellow citizens disagree with the plan for peace I have chosen. Honest and patriotic Americans have reached different conclusions as to how peace should be achieved.
In San Francisco a few weeks ago, I saw demonstrators carrying signs reading: "Lose in Vietnam, bring the boys home."
Well, one of the strengths of our free society is that any American has a right to reach that conclusion and to advocate that point of view. But as President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the nation by mounting demonstrations in the street.
For almost 200 years, the policy of this Nation has been made under our Constitution by those leaders in the Congress and the White House elected by all of the people. If a vocal minority, however fervent its cause, prevails over reason and the will of the majority, this Nation has no future as a free society.…
I know it may not be fashionable to speak of patriotism or national destiny these days. But I feel it is appropriate to do so on this occasion.
Two hundred years ago this Nation was weak and poor. But even then, America was the hope of millions in the world. Today we have become the strongest and richest nation in the world. And the wheel of destiny has turned so that any hope the world has for the survival of peace and freedom will be determined by whether the American people have the moral stamina and the courage to meet the challenge of free world leadership.
Let historians not record that when America was the most powerful nation in the world we passed on the other side of the road and allowed the last hopes for peace and freedom of millions of people to be suffocated by the forces of totalitarianism.
And so tonight — to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans — I ask for your support.
I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initiated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge.
The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed; for the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris.
Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.
Public domain. Available at “Nixon,” The American Experience, PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/nixon-vietnam/.
On May 20, 1970, between 60,000 and 150,000 construction workers and others paraded through downtown New York to show support for President Nixon's Vietnam war policies. The parade was organized by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (led by Peter Brennan) in part to counteract the widespread media images of rampaging construction workers from May 8 with images of peaceful political protest. A blizzard of tickertape drifted down on the marchers from the windows of Wall Street offices.
This article is not news coverage of the march but rather "a random sampling of some marchers and their views." This is a valuable historical source for uncovering what the "hardhats" themselves thought and who they were. It is important to keep in mind, though, that the reporter and editors selected the marchers and views they found most newsworthy or representative.
Robert Geary, 50, an office worker for the Colonial Hardware Corporation:
I'm very proud to be an American, and I know my boy that was killed in Vietnam would be here today if he was alive, marching with us....I know he died for the right cause, because in his letters he wrote to me he knew what he was fighting for: to keep America free and to avoid any taking over by Communists--atheistic Communists, by the way.
I think most of them [college dissenters] are influenced by a few vile people...I'll tell you one person who smudged the name of my son and that was Mayor Lindsay. When he stands up and says men who refuse to serve in the armed forces are heroic, then I presume by the same category that my son that was killed in Vietnam is a coward, the way he thinks.
Eighty per cent of the people are behind America and the flag...I believe that what we're fighting for is worth it, yes, but nobody likes war.
Of the flag: It's me. It's part of me. I fought for it myself two or three years in the Second World War...It's the greatest country in the world. All they [dissenters] have to do is move out.
Mrs. Allison Greaker, 411 100th Street, Brooklyn, marching with her children, Richard Nixon Greaker, 1, and Allison, 2:
We're part of the silent majority that's finally speaking--and in answer to the creeps and the bums that have been hollering and marching against the President.
I think he's doing everything he can to bring about an honorable peace. I think my kids are going to live better with Nixon in the White House.
Source A:Paul Potter, speech in opposition to the Vietnam War, “Naming the System” (excerpt), April 17, 1965
NOTE: Paul Potter, president of the Students for a Democratic Society, spoke in front of 25,000 people who had participated in a march on Washington, DC, on April 17, 1965m to urge an end to the war in Vietnam.
There is no simple plan, no scheme or gimmick that can be proposed here. There is no simple way to attack something that is deeply rooted in the society. If the people of this country are to end the war in Vietnam, and to change the institutions which create it, then the people of this country must create a massive social movement-and if that can be built around the issue of Vietnam then that is what we must do.
By a social movement I mean more than petitions or letters of protest, or tacit support of dissident Congressmen; I mean people who are willing to change their lives, who are willing to challenge the system, to take the problem of change seriously. By a social movement I mean an effort that is powerful enough to make the country understand that our problems are not in Vietnam, or China or Brazil or outer space or at the bottom of the ocean, but are here in the United States. What we must do is begin to build a democratic and humane society in which Vietnams are unthinkable, in which human life and initiative are precious. The reason there are twenty thousand people here today and not a hundred or none at all is because five years ago in the South students began to build a social movement to change the system. The reason there are poor people, Negro and white, housewives, faculty members, and many others here in Washington is because that movement has grown and spread and changed and reached out as an expression of the broad concerns of people throughout the society. The reason the war and the system it represents will be stopped, if it is stopped before it destroys all of us, will be because the movement has become strong enough to exact change in the society. Twenty thousand people, the people here, if they were serious, if they were willing to break out of their isolation and to accept the consequences of a decision to end the war and commit themselves to building a movement wherever they are and in whatever way they effectively can, would be, I’m convinced, enough.
To build a movement rather than a protest or some series of protests, to break out of our insulations and accept the consequences of our decisions, in effect to change our lives, means that we can open ourselves to the reactions of a society that believes that it is moral and just, that we open ourselves to libeling and persecution, that we dare to be really seen as wrong in a society that doesn’t tolerate fundamental challenges.
Used with permission.
Supporting Question 4
Source B: Martin Luther King Jr., speech in opposition to the Vietnam War, "A Time to Break Silence,” April 4, 1967
NOTE: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University website contains a transcript and audio recording of Dr. King’s New York speech in opposition to the Vietnam War: http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_beyond_vietnam/.
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