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Saturday, April 15, 2017

My First Antiwar Protest - The New York Times



"Clinton, N.Y. — Fifty years ago this spring, on April 15, 1967, a cold, damp Saturday morning, I walked from a friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I’d spent the previous night, toward the Sheep Meadow in Central Park. I was 16, a junior in high school from a small town in eastern Connecticut, and eager to join my first antiwar protest, which had been organized by something called the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (or “Mobe” for short), a recently assembled coalition of radical, pacifist and student groups. This was, in effect, my introduction to “the Sixties,” as well as to antiwar protest, for the decade had as yet barely touched rural Connecticut.



Although this would change in another year or so, in my hometown in the spring of 1967 teenage boys still kept their hair short, girls wore skirts below the knees (both per school requirements), nobody had bell-bottoms, and tie-dye was an unknown concept. And, more important, nobody in my high school or community was vocally opposed to the Vietnam War — except, it seemed, me (my parents had their doubts, but kept them to themselves). Which, up to that Saturday morning, left me feeling a bit lonely in my growing conviction that the war represented a moral disaster and a stain on the national honor. But when I reached the Sheep Meadow, suddenly I found I was lonely no longer.



I knew that public protest against the war had been growing for several years, but such things took place in distant and inaccessible locales like Madison, Wis., and Berkeley, Calif., events that received, at best, grudging and sour attention from the newspapers and magazines available to me in the high school library. One exception that caught my eye had taken place two years before, on April 17, 1965, an antiwar gathering in Washington, D.C., organized by a small campus radical group called Students for a Democratic Society. Apparently much to the surprise of the organizers, some 15,000 or so mostly young antiwar protesters showed up that spring day, which was considered a huge turnout by then prevailing standards."



My First Antiwar Protest - The New York Times

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