Read this text by a Montclair professor to learn how the anti-war movement was more than love beads and peace signs. If the result of any protest was to undermine what the American government was seeking to achieve it was the one that took place at Kent State University, Ohio, in 1970. The 1971 May Day protests against the war in Vietnam. The most infamous was the My Lai massacre. Kennedy was careful to state that American involvement in Vietnam would remain limited: In the years following Kennedy's death, American involvement in Vietnam deepened. And in the wake of Kent State, the nation remained deeply divided. Armed troops had been called out to protect the building. During the Kennedy administration, American military advisers began to flow into Vietnam, and America's footprint in the country grew larger. This event actually highlighted to the US public the enormous strain frontline troops were experiencing on a daily basis against a supposedly inferior enemy. In the process of finding that the government’s interest in preserving the draft outweighed O’Brien’s right of symbolic protest, the Court created a test that it still uses in cases dealing with symbolic speech. Yet those who saw the war as a pointless quagmire always contended that it could never have been won, and needed to be stopped as soon as possible. Mainly with regards to the Vietnam war, people were having issues understanding why the U.S. as a democracy were helping fight a war on the same side of a dictatorship (South Vietnam). To many, the draft was a death sentence. Vietnam War protests at the Pentagon, October 1967. Numerous people protested the Vietnam War for these and other reasons as well. However, his very public stance brought a more worldwide dimension to the problem America was experiencing with the draft.eval(ez_write_tag([[468,60],'historylearningsite_co_uk-medrectangle-4','ezslot_3',114,'0','0'])); The war had been sold to the US public as one where a sophisticated and ultra wealthy super-power would have few problems defeating a Third World nation that North Vietnam seemed to represent. Writer Normal Mailer, a participant in the protest, was among the hundreds arrested. The Vietnam War was the first to actually receive such broadcasts and they clearly had a marked influence on the American population as a whole. The casualty rate among Black soldiers was higher than among white soldiers. Jane Fonda, a popular film actress and the daughter of legendary movie star Henry Fonda, became an outspoken opponent of the war. Vietnam had been divided into North and South Vietnam, and American officials resolved to prop up the government of South Vietnam as it fought against a communist insurgency supported by North Vietnam. Cold War > Vietnam Protest Movement Primary Sources Vietnam Protest Movement. Even when most of the fighting in Vietnam was turned over to South Vietnamese forces and overall American involvement in Southeast Asia decreased, protests against the war continued. With a population that ran into millions, it could be argued that they represented a very small minority of the city. Skepticism about the government influenced events such as the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the public's reaction to the Watergate scandal. The Vietnam War divided America along all age, race, and gender lines with it came to support for the war. Civil Rights Movement Timeline From 1965 to 1969, Top Essentials to Know About the Vietnam War, The Orangeburg Massacre: Causes, Events, and Aftermath, Civil Rights Movement Timeline From 1960 to 1964, The History of U.S. Laws Against Flag-Burning. America had been through nearly twenty years of the Cold War and they were told by the government that what was happening in South Vietnam would happen elsewhere (the Domino Theory) unless America used her military might to stop it. 1968 seems to be the key year for protests. The draft, as a system of conscription which threatened lower class registrants and middle class registrants alike, drove much of the protest after 1965. Our spirit is opposed to violence, opposed to hate, opposed to every motive that has produced this terrible war … we can overcome, … When they publicly threw away their medals and medal ribbons, many in America were shocked that those who had worn the uniform of the US military had come to think that the only way ahead was to discard the very things that had been issued to them to represent their bravery – their medals. These protests usually were peaceful and included such things as burning draft cards, fleeing to Canada or some other country to escape the draft, protest rallies and marches, or simply remaining enrolled in college to avoid the draft. Timeline: Vietnam War and Protests From the Collection: Vietnam War. Also, civilian killings which … The Vietnam War was the first to actually receive such broadcasts and they clearly had a marked influence on the American population as a whole. On the day of the protest, administrators told the students to remove the armbands or they would be suspended. Tearing up or burning your draft paper became a common occurrence and was seen to be the first of the protests against the Vietnam War. America rallied to the call of the commander-in-chief and after the Gulf of Tonkin incident it became very apparent that few would raise protests against the decision to militarily support South Vietnam. Protests against the war also accelerated. He was punished by having his boxing title taken away from him. At different times they chose different targets: the Pentagon, Presidents Nixon and Johnson, the draft, Dow Chemical. Vietnam was … He would write a book about the experience, Armies of the Night, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Baez often performed at antiwar rallies and participated in many protests. This particular protest involved many veterans from the war. Protest by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Americans began to sense that Vietnam was turning into a major problem when, in the spring of 1963, Buddhists began a series of protests against the American-backed and extremely corrupt government of premier Ngo Dinh Diem. Key Idea: Anti-War Demonstrations were a key action taken in the protest movement against the Vietnam War in NZ; Led by the growing counter-culture movement and the increased NZ presence in Vietnam, a young, militaristic group of protesters emerged. Coupled with these casualty figures were stories that eventually came out about atrocities committed by US troops against the very people they were meant to be defending and supporting. The changes in public attitudes that emerged during the antiwar movement still resonate in society to the present day. One famous example was an explosion at a townhouse in New York's Greenwich Village in March 1970. History Learning Site Copyright © 2000 - 2020. It is said that two images in particular did a great deal to turn US opinion with regards to was in Vietnam. Demonstrations were also held in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and, as the New York Times put it, "scores of other American cities.". The Vietnam War lasted for over 10 years. Days after the shooting at Kent State, on May 8, 1970, college students gathered to protest on Wall Street in the heart of New York City's financial district. It meant being sent to a war and fighting for a cause that many people did not believe in. It seemed to the protesters to summarise exactly why America should not be in South Vietnam. The protests during Vietnam were not so much a protest against the war, as they were a protest against the draft. The most famous person to do this was the world heavyweight-boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The protests against the war started to pick up when body bags started to return to America in increasing numbers. As Johnson was speaking in the White House, 350 demonstrators protesting the war were arrested outside the U.S. Capitol. 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 history of protest is a long and complicated one. US television could bring into the homes of all US citizens what the war was actually like. On the evening of June 8, 1965, a crowd of 17,000 paid to attend an antiwar rally held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The principle of stopping the spread of communism in its tracks made sense to most Americans, and few people outside the military paid much attention to what at that time seemed like an obscure and distant land. On October 21, 1967, a crowd estimated at 50,000 protesters marched from Washington, D.C. to the parking lots of the Pentagon. I joined the SDS and started protesting on our college campus. Protests against the war continued at various locations around the country. America rallied to the call of the commander-in-chief and after the Gulf of Tonkin incident it became very apparent that few would raise protests against the decision to militarily support South Vietnam. As American involvement in Vietnam grew in the early 1960s, a small number of concerned and dedicated citizens started to protest what they viewed as a misguided adventure. Protests were initially peaceful and included sit-ins or teach-ins or marches, but they eventually erupted into violence. The issue of American involvement came up in an interview with President Kennedy conducted by journalist Walter Cronkite on September 2, 1963, less than three months before Kennedy's assassination. And as so few Americans were involved, it wasn't a terribly volatile issue. The war that had been sold to the US public as one where victory was guaranteed was in reality taking many young lives. One cry of the protesters particularly hurt President Johnson: “Hey! At the end of 1965, several high school students in Des Moines, Iowa, decided to protest against American bombing in Vietnam by wearing black armbands to school. Vietnamese monk protesting with self-immolation. Protests against the Vietnam War did not start when America declared her open involvement in the war in 1964. Yet during the Vietnam War, draft evasion and draft resistance reached a historic peak, nearly crippling the Selective Service System. He was stripped of his boxing title but was eventually vindicated in a long legal battle. If there was to be a political protest, it never became apparent in Congress where the entire House voted to support Johnson and only two Senators voted against US involvement. The number ONE reason for protesting the Vietnam War was because the "protesters" did not want to be inducted into the US military. In May 1968, 562 US troops were killed in one week alone. Those who had the necessary ‘pull’ had the opportunity to ‘draft-dodge’ – but this was not a luxury open to many poor working class young men. Hundreds of young people were beaten in the streets as a small force of police officers mostly stood by and watched. As Americans watched on live television, Chicago turned into a battleground as police clubbed protesters. I know I started protesting in late 1967 when LBJ finally admitted we couldn’t win in Vietnam but he wasn’t going to be the first President to lose a war. In contrast to O’… Those who supported America's involvement in the war always contended that protesters had essentially sabotaged the troops and made the war unwinnable. Young Black men were more likely to be drafted and more likely to be assigned to dangerous combat duty. Vietnam War protests began small among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses but gained national … The hippy movement preached love not war. All of this clashed with any concept that involved doing the ‘right thing’ for your nation. A sit-down … While there were those who were vociferous in their condemnation of US policy in South Vietnam, a Gallup poll held in 1968 showed that 46% of Americans approved of Johnson’s handling of the war while 50% believed that it was essential to combat the expansion of communism in Southeast Asia. America's combat role in Vietnam came to an official end with the peace agreement signed in early 1973. These images were published internationally and could do nothing to help the US government’s cause, especially when it became known that the napalm attack was a mistake against the wrong village. By the time of the 1969 moratorium day protests, nearly 40,000 Americans had died in Vietnam. 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