ON THIS DAY    Witness      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1969: Mass protests against Vietnam War

The Peace Moratorium of 1969 was described as the largest demonstration in US history.

It showed just how large was the tidal wave of anti-Vietnam sentiment in America.

About two million people took part in marches and activities all over the country - the largest was held in Washington DC where 250,000 demonstrators came out onto the streets to demand an end to war.

Those who supported the war also made their feelings known by driving with their headlights on.

Your memories of Vietnam protests:

In 1969, I was a sophomore at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Like many thousands of my fellow students, I took part in marches and demonstrations against the war.

Much later, I became an attorney and as it happened, ended up representing a number of Vietnam combat vets. Usually this was in criminal cases because I did a lot of criminal defense work.


" That's the one real regret I have about those days: I didn't do enough to end the war in Vietnam "

John, USA

In discussing their Vietnam experiences with them, it became crystal clear to me that our vets were failed by utterly inadequate leadership, both from the military high command and the White House.

The war was never winnable, ever.

The prosecution of it destroyed millions of lives on both sides, and continues to destroy lives 35 years after.

If I could do anything over, I would have dropped out of school and worked full time to end the war. That's the one real regret I have about those days: I didn't do enough to end the war in Vietnam.
John, USA

I was 24 years old that year, and my little sister was only 15.

We took a bus with two other friends from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

I remember singing with Peter, Paul and Mary and seeing the Washington monument.

And I remember "losing" my baby sister - she was not on the bus coming home.

She and my friend Shelley had gone off and I could not find them. And when we arrived back at 30th Street, I remember thinking, "If my sister is not here, my parents will KILL me."

But there she was. And she and I will be marching to impeach Bush on September 24, 2005 - sisters together again marching for a new cause. Our country, once more, is in major danger.
Ellen, USA

Nine friends and I pooled our money, crowded into a Ford van, and drove all the way from Oklahoma to DC.

The smiles, waves, and good treatment we received from people in areas we thought would be against us were a welcome surprise.

We were efficiently directed to overnight housing by church volunteer centers, walked in the candlelight vigil past the White House, each carrying a placard with the name of a US soldier killed in Vietnam, and then left to find food.

We accidentally walked into what we found out later was DuPont Circle, by the Vietnamese embassy just in time to be tear gassed by the DC police.

The crowds in the daytime mass demonstration by the Washington Monument were enormous - certainly larger than the government estimates - and peaceful, if somewhat raucous.

An inspiring trip, and the difficulties in getting there only intensified the experience.
David Wilcomb, USA

The anti-war movement defined my life from when I was 13 or 14 (1964-5) on.

I will always be proud of what I did to end the US agression, especially helping draft evaders and military deserters escape and avoid capture.

For a while, I moved blank draft cards and got them to people who needed them, including filling them out properly with their new identities.

They were very good and indistinguishable from the real thing, same type of paper and everything.

I eventually got busted for draft evasion, but after a month in jail, they let me take the draft physical.

Even though I had two broken ribs from fights in jail and couldn't lift my right arm above the shoulder, I passed the physical.

But they decided they didn't want me anyway, presumably because of my anti-war activities, and I got cut loose.
Steve, USA

A newborn in 1967, I have no memories of the conflict.

However, I believe there are many parallels to today's events.

Just as in 1967 there are many in the world who would have us turn our backs on the Iraqi people - and allow tyranny and despotism to continue there.

The "peaceniks" of the late '60's should feel very proud today, to see a Vietnam we left behind with an average annual household income of US$410 (source: BBC's Country Profile), and a life expectancy a full 10 years behind the developed world.

Thank you to all the demonstrators who helped end our involvement in Vietnam - I'm sure the families there who now live on an average $410 a year thank you also.

You have helped them beyond measure.
JP Aragon, USA

I was also, like JP, born in 1967 and agree that there are many parallels to today's events.

America is once more bombing indescriminately and US soldiers are torturing and murdering prisoners of war.

Even allowing for several decades' worth of petulant US sanctions, the "Vietnam we left behind" has a life expectancy of over a decade greater than their neighbour, Cambodia, (it is also greater than India) not to mention a greater $GNI.

This comparison is a true "apples" to "apples" one.
Mike McGanan, USA


Search ON THIS DAY by date   

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |