As America’s military presence in Vietnam grew, so did the parallel battle, on American streets, for peace. Many of these voters went on to support the third-party candidacy of the Vietnam hawk George Wallace in the November general election. In 2003, Senator John Kerry offered the following thoughts on the Vietnam War: "I saw courage both in the Vietnam War and in the struggle to stop it. Though it's a claim that has long been favored by those who choose to look back on the antiwar movement through rose-colored glasses, a quick check of the record tells a far different story. All the major public opinion polls of that era, from the first stirrings of antiwar sentiment in 1965 to the mass demonstrations four and five years later, showed that the majority of Americans remained more or less supportive of their Government's policy in Southeast Asia. That spring, a small protest movement developed, mainly among college students. I learned that patriotism includes protest, not just military service." A spirit of protest spread throughout society. It is impossible to think about America's long and complicated involvement in Vietnam without considering the impact of the antiwar movement. In this article, the attitude of US college students to the war in Vietnam would be examined, also their response to the course of events that were associated with the period of the war including protests against the Vietnam war, while we see the effect it had on the American authority and ultimately, the sufficiency or otherwise of the … The flag at New York's City Hall was flown at half-staff to honor the Kent State students. They knew better than anyone else the horrors of war, post-traumatic stress disorder, health problems caused by agent orange and other chemicals. He would write a book about the experience, Armies of the Night, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Timeline: Vietnam War and Protests From the Collection: Vietnam War. In May 1968, 562 US troops were killed in one week alone. This song was made after the year of the most Vietnam casualties in 1968. Called the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, its organizers went to great lengths to eliminate the violent rhetoric and confrontational street tactics that had marred previous coalition actions. Massive crowds protested against the war. Robert J. McNamara is a history expert and former magazine journalist. As late as 1972 -- a full eight years after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, four years after the Tet offensive, three years after revelation of the My Lai massacre and two years after the National Guard shootings at Kent State -- the Democratic Presidential nominee, George McGovern, running on an unambiguous vow to stop the war, suffered a loss of cataclysmic proportions to President Richard Nixon. Thousands of outraged young people descended on Chicago to protest outside the convention hall. Speakers included Senator Wayne Morse, a Democrat from Oregon who had become a sharp critic of the Johnson Administration. Young black men were more likely to be drafted and more likely to be assigned to dangerous combat duty. The public had become war weary. The DC War Moratorium and the Mobe protests a month later drew huge crowds. As I remember it, they didn't. 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. The scope and intensity of anti-Vietnam War protests were a major factor in President Lyndon Johnson's advisors urging him to end the war. 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. The suspended students did not return to school until after New Year's, past the end of their planned protest. Some actions attributed to antiwar protesters were so outside the mainstream that they drew sharp denunciations. This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. Carol Muske Dukes asserts that "the war in Vietnam was stopped" by the protests and activism of the late 1960's and early 70's. And as so few Americans were involved, it wasn't a terribly volatile issue. A powerful bomb, which was being built by members of the radical Weather Underground group, went off prematurely. Within a span of just a few years, opposition to the Vietnam War became a colossal movement, with protests drawing hundreds of thousands of Americans into the streets. In February 1969, in a landmark 7-2 decision, the high court ruled in favor of the students. The Nixon administration claimed to have a plan to end the war, but there did not seem to be any end in sight. 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. (Photo: Michael Fisher/Flickr/cc) For fifty years the protesters of the Vietnam War have posed a challenge to American culture. Share: Copy Link. On December 16, 1965, two students, 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker and 16-year-old Christian Eckhardt, refused to remove their armbands and were sent home. As a long-time activist and ISR subscriber, I would like to respond to Ashley Smith’s article in the July-August 2008 issue (“Which way forward for the antiwar movement?”). See the article in its original context from. Vietnamese monk protesting with self-immolation. Protesters shut down D.C. traffic before. As Johnson was speaking in the White House, 350 demonstrators protesting the war were arrested outside the U.S. Capitol. Though Nixon claimed the action would be limited, it struck many Americans as a widening of the war, and it sparked a new round of protests on college campuses. Rather than give credit to the antiwar movement for stopping the war, I think it's at least as valid to suggest that the turmoil created by the movement served further to paralyze United States policy makers, whose aims in Vietnam were never very clear. Protests against the war also accelerated. Students protesting outside the White House, 1965. For King, the war was both a humanitarian issue and a civil rights issue. Days of unrest at Kent State University in Ohio culminated in a violent encounter on May 4, 1970. The mobilization of a massive number of protesters greatly influenced public opinion, which in turn influenced how the war was conducted. The flag was raised, then lowered once again later in the day. The protests actually extended the war because the turmoil in the United States helped the North Vietnamese delay during the Paris Peace Talks. The various protests drew to an end as President Richard Nixon, who served from 1969-1974, began to withdraw American soldiers from North and South Vietnam. Three members of the group were killed, and the incident created considerable fear that protests might become violent. Looking back, few incidents in this cycle of more war and more protest aroused the nation as did the horrendous incident on May 4, 1970. Others claimed the killings had been justified. Following the end of the war, she became an advocate for Vietnamese refugees, who were known as "boat people.". By the time of the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 1968, the antiwar movement within the party had been largely thwarted. The anti-war protestors continued to hammer away at the war during the Nixon years. The Vietnam War dominated the mid-to-late sixties and taught American elected officials the limits of their powers and their failure to play the role of an international patrol. Skepticism about the government influenced events such as the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the public's reaction to the Watergate scandal. One student said the president had also talked about sports, mentioning a college football team and, upon hearing one student was from California, talked about surfing. Major protests were held in Washington in 1971. According to the New York Times, organizers expected those sympathetic to ending the war "to lower their flags to half-staff and attend mass rallies, parades, teach-ins, forums, candlelight processions, prayers and the reading of the names of Vietnam war dead.". In a shocking gesture, a young Buddhist monk sat on a Saigon street and set himself on fire, creating an iconic image of Vietnam as a deeply troubled land. Such acts of protest and resistance drew public attention and built up domestic pressure on the US government to gradually withdraw American troops … During the Vietnam War, why did antiwar protests increase after US forces attacked Viet Cong bases and supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh trail? It was a very nasty period in our history. Students at campuses across the nation went on strike in solidarity with the dead of Kent State. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. Beyond government policy, the antiwar movement also was a great influence on American culture, inspiring rock music, films, and works of literature. According to a front-page New York Times article the next day, office workers watching the mayhem in the streets below their windows could see men in suits who seemed to be directing the construction workers. The Mobilization called for major rallies in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco for Nov. 15. to discuss the impact of the antiwar movement on the course of the Vietnam War and ultimately the role the movement had in ending the war. Vietnam War Protests Influenced Popular Music America’s involvement in Vietnam started slowly - only 5,000 soldiers in 1960. On a hot, sticky May afternoon in 1970, a crowd of several thousand students and protesters took over the University of Maryland mall.Many were there to protest the Vietnam War. These protests were organized by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (New Mobe) and the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (SMC). One famous example was an explosion at a townhouse in New York's Greenwich Village in March 1970. Protest by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Some protests advocated for Civil Rights, while many sought to put an end to the Vietnam War. Mass protests didn’t stop the Vietnam war. Eleven days later, Dr. King organized a rally of 125,000 in protest against the war. Major protests were held in Washington in 1971. On October 15, 1969, a nationwide "moratorium" was held to protest the war. Protest by Teens in Middle America Reached the Supreme Court. In early 1966, the escalation of the war in Vietnam continued. In 1975, when North Vietnamese forces entered Saigon and the South Vietnamese government collapsed, the last Americans fled Vietnam in helicopters. These protests were attended by American pacifists commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War. As the war escalated and increasing numbers of Americans were wounded and killed in combat, the opposition grew. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. The casualty rate among black soldiers was higher than among white soldiers. Nixon later said he tried to explain his position on the war and urged students to keep their protests peaceful. Protesters included a group of men who had served in the conflict and called themselves the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Hundreds of young people were beaten in the streets as a small force of police officers mostly stood by and watched. Vietnam Veterans Against the War Homepage Over 30,000 Vietnam Veterans were protesting the war while it was still going on. Yes I am certain they did have an effect, although the anti-war protests were not the only reason the war ended. Initially, disapproval of American involvement in Vietnam circulated primarily through academic circles in which American motivation for involvement was questioned. Body of protester shot dead at Kent State. 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.". Joan Baez at a 1965 antiwar rally in London. So, the answer is YES, the protests did force the administration and Congress to bring the war to a close. Against a backdrop of such disturbing and discouraging news, the Kennedy administration continued to send American advisers to Vietnam. By then, of course, the antiwar movement itself had largely petered out as the Nixon Administration implemented a series of troop withdrawals and the draft gave way to all-volunteer armed forces. The newspaper described the protest as something of a genteel social event, noting "Beards and blue jeans mixed with Ivy tweeds and an occasional clerical collar in the crowd.". The National Student Strike, Cambodia/Kent State, The Pentagon Papers legal case, Operation Linebacker protests … The Pentagon Protest helped contribute to the "Dump Johnson" movement, in which liberal Democrats sought to find candidates who would run against Johnson in the upcoming Democratic primaries of 1968. On October 21, 1967, a crowd estimated at 50,000 protesters marched from Washington, D.C. to the parking lots of the Pentagon. The changes in public attitudes that emerged during the antiwar movement still resonate in society to the present day. 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. The protests were part of a movement in opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and as such took place mainly in the U.S. The protests were finally taken up by the adult population at large in quantum jumps. Americans were comfortable supporting the anti-communist side. In an expansion of his message concerning race and the war in Vietnam, King began to link the oppression of the poor to the global oppressiveness of capitalism as exhibited in the U.S. action in Southeast Asia. Protesters included a group of men who had served in the conflict and called themselves the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The need for peace of necessary due to the fact that many mothers and fathers were losing their young sons to a war that was fought purely for the interests of the United … 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. Protests in Minnesota took place within a nationwide context of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, as well as other social movements that mobilized large numbers of people. Discover surprising insights and little-known facts about politics, literature, science, and the marvels of the natural world. 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. Anti-Vietnam Protests; Anti Vietnam Protests. With assistance from the ACLU, their case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, eventually went to the Supreme Court. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. He was stripped of his boxing title but was eventually vindicated in a long legal battle. After all, the war in Vietnam, at least in terms of Americans fighting and dying, lasted three times as long as the Korean conflict of the 1950's -- a war that, by way of comparison, elicited minimal backlash on the home front. Jane Fonda, a popular film actress and the daughter of legendary movie star Henry Fonda, became an outspoken opponent of the war. Other speakers included Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin, one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington; and Dr. Benjamin Spock, one of the most famous doctors in America thanks to his best-selling book on caring for babies. And in the wake of Kent State, the nation remained deeply divided. My argument is that the antiwar movement did influence some Vietnam policies; however it did not directly end the war. Protests against the war continued at various locations around the country. ... A change that occurred in the US military following the end of the Vietnam War was that. The Washington gathering, according to the next day's New York Times, drew more than 15,000 protesters. A leftist student organization, Students for a Democratic Society, commonly known as SDS, called for a protest in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 17, 1965. Despite a brief upsurge in protests following and resumption of the air war against North Vietnam in the spring of 1972, the factionalization of the movement and the withdrawal of most U.S. forces led to a decline in protests. So did those of us active in the struggle against the Vietnam War. America's combat role in Vietnam came to an official end … The first organised protests against the Vietnam War took place in both New York and Philadelphia during August 1963. Those who supported America's involvement in the war always contended that protesters had essentially sabotaged the troops and made the war unwinnable. Elaborating on the iconic picture, which eventually caused the Vietnam war to end in 1973, he says, “I was taking pictures at Trang Bang 25 miles northwest of Saigon. In May 1970, an estimated 4 million young people joined protests that shut down classes at seven hundred colleges, universities, and high … Blow up they did, as Nixon’s unexpected escalation of an already unpopular war in Vietnam triggered a chain of events culminating in the largest student strike in US history. Conservative groups routinely denounced "peaceniks" and counter-protests were common wherever protesters rallied against the war. Student protesters prompted a Supreme Court case. 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. 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. The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was a massive demonstration and teach-in across the United States against the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.It took place on October 15, 1969, followed a month later, on November 15, 1969, by a large Moratorium March in Washington, D.C. A mob of construction workers swarmed the police providing security at City Hall and demanded the flag be raised to the top of the flagpole. the military became an all-volunteer force. Protests did not end the Vietnam War by themselves, but the anti-war movement gained momentum with the release of the Pentagon Papers. Fonda's trip to Vietnam was highly controversial at the time and remains so to this day. It helped end the Vietnam War — and reshaped American activism. The war that had been sold to the US public as one where victory was guaranteed was in reality taking many young lives. Four days earlier, President Nixon had extended the war across the Vietnam border for the first time. 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