ACTION ALERT: 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam Moratorium and Mobilization
We are days away from the 50th anniversary of Vietnam Moratorium — the massive anti-war protests against the US war on Vietnam that took place across the US on October 10, 1969. The Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee Vietnam has been tracking the efforts being made around the country to give this event the attention it deserves. The most substantial program we know of is at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Details below.
An excellent program is being organized by George Washington University for the 50th anniversary of the November Mobilization in Washington, also reported below.
Looking forward, think about joining a trip to Indochina in April for the 45th anniversary of the end of the war. In May, we will observe the 50th anniversaries of the killings at Kent State and Jackson State and the resulting nationwide student strike that affected 700 campuses. (That’s another excellent opportunity for a local history project.)
Ball State University Memorializes Its Moratorium
Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana has organized an excellent program for October 10th and 11th. As described on their web site:
“In October of 1969, a small group of students at Ball State University marched in unison to protest the Vietnam War as part of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee. Members of the original group are hosting a reunion and commemoration of the 50th anniversary.
We want to:
REUNITE with original participants
REMEMBER what we did and share our experience with current Ball State students and the Muncie community
REKINDLE the current generation’s interest in promoting peace and getting involved in issues of social justice”
The school’s press release is here. A reunion of former students who were active in 1969 is taking place on Thursday evening. A full day conference open to the public is scheduled for Friday, featuring a talk by famed draft resistor David Harris (agenda here).
A particularly creative idea is visible on their web site, three VMC Scrapbook pages of chronologically arranged clippings that capture the full range of opinion about the lead up, day of, and fall out from their demonstration.
Ball State activism was featured on the NBC network on February 25,1970 portraying anti-war sentiment in the heartland, see it here.
Other Moratorium Events
October 13, 6 p.m. — The Orpheum Theater, 216 State St., Madison, WIsconsin, 40th Anniversary Benefit Screening of The War at Home, followed by panel discussion with Glenn Silber: “The War at Home: Then & Now: Lessons of the Antiwar Movement”, details here
October 15th, 7 p.m. — Swords into Plowshares Peace Center & Gallery, 33 E. Adams, Detroit. “Fifty years later: The antiwar movement then and now” Frank Joyce co-editor of the book, People Make the Peace — Lessons from the Antiwar Movement, recently translated and published in Vietnam; member of VPCC/
October 18, 12 to 2 pm — Columbia University School of International Affairs, Room 1512, 420 W. 118 Street, NY Waging Peace book launch with activist veterans; speakers here
George Washington University Remembers the November Mobilization
Waging Peace in Vietnam, November 11-15
An imaginative multi-dimensional program begins on Veterans Day at the Elliott School of International Affairs. (available here) In summary
• November 11 — Opening of the Waging Peace exhibit, launching of the companion book on US Soldiers and Veterans Who Opposed the War.
• November 12 — “Sir! No Sir!” documentary screening with filmmaker David Zeiger.
• November 13 — The War Comes Home: Moratorium and Mobilization, 1969, a VPCC panel (speakers here); peace poetry workshop and open mic.
• November 14 — Screening of fine cut of The Boys Who Said No with filmmaker Bill Prince, Re-enactment of the Cortright vs. Resor court case; Screening of The Whistleblower of My Lai with filmmaker Connie Field.
- November 15 — Full day symposium “The American War in Vietnam: Then and Now” with panels on The History of Diplomatic and Peace Movement Initiative to Bring About Peace in Vietnam, Teaching the American War in Vietnam, Mitigating the Legacies of War (Agent Orange, Unexploded Ordnance); Keynote addresses by Christian Appy and Cora Weiss; Candlelight vigil with re-enactment of March Against Death from George Washington University to the White House with comments by Rep. Jamie Raskin, (For information about the week and the walk to the White House, contact Terry Provance here.)
It’s Not Too Late to Add Your Voice
If nothing else, write a letter to the editor or an op-ed that marks the anniversary and reflects on your personal experience. (Please send us a copy.)
Invite friends and colleagues for a potluck to watch Glen Silber’s essential documentary, “The War at Home,” and see where that leads. (It is available on Netflix or in a 40th Anniversary Special Edition DVD available here from the filmmaker for $19.99 until January 1st.)
Or share a DVD from us of “Don’t Burn”, Dang Nhat Minh’s powerful film offering a unique Vietnamese perspective. (see Resources list)
Whether small and invitational or more ambitious and public, making something happen where you live this October or November is invaluable and entirely in your hands.
Suggestions for local projects are posted here.
“Witness to the Revolution” by Clara Bingham An oral history of 1969-1970 includes interviews about the Moratorium and Mobilization with Sam Brown, David Hawk, David Mixner, Daniel Ellsberg, Seymour Hersh, Oliver Stone, Barry Romo, Wayne Smith and Bobby Muller. (Clara is on the VPCC panel in Washington November 13th.)
“Waging Peace in Vietnam: US Soldiers and Veterans who Opposed the War” Co-editors: Ron Carver David Cortright and Barbara Doherty, New Village Press, Distributed by NYU Press
“Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein includes an good description of the Moratorium that can also be read here.
“The United States, Southeast Asia, and Historical Memory.” Edited by Caroline Luft and Mark Pavlick Essays by antiwar activists and scholars. Fred Branfman describes the tragic lives of Laotian peasants under US bombing. Cambodia scholar Ben Kiernan and colleague Owen Taylor illuminate the course of Cambodia history after unprecedented US bombing. The book also includes classic works by Noam Chomsky, Nick Turse, and Edward Herman. Full description and order information here.
Tom Hayden on Social Movements. Consisting of four unpublished talks and an interview by Rolling Stone from 1972 – 1977.Available on Amazon on Kindle and paperback
Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems by W.D. Ehrhart order directly from the publisher McFarland & Company
“The MLK Speech We Need Today Is Not the One We Remember Most,” an essay by Viet Thanh Nguyen in Time Magazine on the relevance of the Riverside Church sermon to today “King’s prophecy connects the war in Vietnam with our forever wars today, spread across multiple countries and continents, waged without end from global military bases numbering around 800. Some of the strategy for our forever war comes directly from lessons that the American military learned in Vietnam: drone strikes instead of mass bombing; volunteer soldiers instead of draftees; censorship of gruesome images from the battlefronts; and encouraging the reverence of soldiers.”
“Exceptional Victims” an essay by Christian Appy in the Boston Review linked to King’s speech “The resistance to the Vietnam War was the most diverse and dynamic antiwar movement in US history. We have all but forgotten it today.” (Keynote speaker November 15th at George Washington University.)
“Overcoming War Legacies: The Road to Reconciliation and Future Cooperation Between the United States and Vietnam”, a remarkable March 26 conference at the US Institute of Peace featuring high level representatives of both countries’ foreign and defense ministries and of the US Senate and NGOs; sessions available on-line.
Swarthmore College Peace Collection Sound Recordings
Over 160 recordings from the Vietnam War era available here
Don’t Burn is the only available film that portrays the war from a Vietnamese perspective; made by Dang Nhat Minh about the journal of a young woman doctor serving in the south who was found by an American soldier and returned to her family in Hanoi decades later; in Vietnamese on youtube; English subtitled DVD available in appreciation of donations of at least $15, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The War at Home by Glenn Silber is the best documentary to convey to a younger generation how the anti-war movement evolved from silent vigils to militant confrontation in the microcosm of Madison, Wisconsin from 1967 to 1972. It has just become available in a restored 40th anniversary DVD with supplemental material. The cost is $19.99 until January 1st if ordered from the filmmaker.
Notes from FFRD
Our next program for former activists and their families will be April 18 – 30, 2020 to participate in events honoring the 45th anniversary of the end of the war. The itinerary will include Hanoi, Quang Tri, Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City and Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. Attention is given to the history and enduring consequences of the war and the role of the anti-war movement, Vietnam’s current social and economic development and challenges, as well as the growing danger of conflict in the East Sea (South China Sea). Pre and post trip personal sightseeing options to Ha Long Bay, etc.; potential pre-trip program in Cambodia and Laos. April 12-17 Send a note to email@example.com to receive updates
Cuba Trip October 16 – 18
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cuba-Ireland relations, including a performance by Mick Moloney and the Green Fields of America. The program includes an introduction to Irish and Irish-American presence in Cuban history. Details here.
Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee
* Sally Benson * David Cortright * Ann Gallivan * Susan Hammond * Rick Hind * Doug Hostetter * Susanne Jackson * Frank Joyce * Steven Ladd * Paul Lauter * John McAuliff * Terry Provance * Brewster Rhoads * Nancy Jane Woodside