War Protests

Published: 1969
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Announcer: While the first steps on the moon were glorious, to many Americans they underscored the paradox and the discrepancy between man’s achievements in science and technology and his failure to live in peace on earth.

Unknown Speaker: "It is not protesting America’s ability to explore outer space, but we are protesting the injustice and inequity of the United States' Congress and its appropriation to space exploration, in comparison to its appropriation to keep men alive here on the face of this earth."

Announcer: The number one complaint of many Americans in 1969 was the war in Vietnam. So they got together; they got together in a haphazard, slipshod way, but their numbers grew; 10,000, 50,000, 100,000, and twice more. They got together to demonstrate against the war. They called their get together a moratorium.

Unknown Speaker: "The mass march on Washington to protest the Vietnam War is peaceful, about 3,000 Mobilization Marshals are keeping the demonstrators within the bounds of the march permitted by officials.

"A cry of peace now goes up in several places along march almost continuously, and with the antiwar peacetime.

"Flags, American, UN, peace, a pale blue, with the dove in the center, and Vietcong, are waved all along the route of march, but just a few blocks from here in the basement of the US capital, a contingent of Marines wait in full battle gear, ready if needed. A mile and a half route, from the capital to the Valley Point at the Washington Monument, remains a sea of humanity, Denis... Washington."

Announcer: The story of dissent against the war coming up next on United Press International, 1969 In Review.

There were mostly young persons and they marched. They called their march a march against death; it was part of the second Moratorium Day, November the 15th, 1969. In Washington D.C., they marched, they chatted, they sang. It sounded like this...

Announcer: Crowds estimated at 250 to 500,000 persons took part in the demonstration in the nation’s capital. A month earlier across the country, thousands more showed their opposition to the war with parades and peace rallies.

Leaders of the moratorium said they hope by demonstrating they could get the administration to alter its Vietnam War policy. The President was asked if the demonstrators would accomplish that goal.

President Richard M. Nixon: “I have often said that there is really very little that we in Washington can do with regard to running the university and college campuses of this country. We have enough problems running the nation, the national problems. Now, I understand that there has been, and continues to be, opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation. As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it, however under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.”

Announcer: It was comedian, Dick Gregory, who answered the President. He did it bluntly and outspokenly.

Dick Gregory: “Last month the President of the United States said nothing you young kids would do would have any effect on him. Well, I suggest to the President of the United States if he want to know how much effect you youngsters can have on the President, he should make one long distance phone call to the LBJ ranch and ask that boy how much effect you can have.”

Announcer: 1969 In Review continues right after this message.

Vice President Spiro Agnew called the demonstrators an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterized themselves as intellectuals. Many of the so-called silent majority agreed with him.

Unknown Speaker 1: “Right now we can't back out, because we never lost a war, anything in our lives, Americans. The people that are out here today, I feel they are demonstrating because they don’t want to go in to serve and defend their country. I am down here because I have to defend my country, and I want the purpose to be that we're down here to fight for our country and risk anything. If we back out of Vietnam right now, there is going to be a war in Bangkok, maybe six, seven months later.”

Unknown Speaker 2: “There are also people who are collaborating with the enemies of freedom.”

Unknown Speaker 3: “I think it’s disgraceful, and I have backed the President. The reason is that I think he -- that they are on the way to making peace, certainly not the beatniks that are on the streets, and he is right when he said its anarchy when they allow this sort of thing to happen. “

Unknown Speaker 4: “I believe very strong that as long as we are there, we have to fight and win, that’s all.”

Unknown Speaker 5: “I think we should get out of there, but not the way they're doing it. I don’t think this moratorium should even come off.”

Unknown Speaker 6: “I think they are sincere, but I think they are misled. I think that any criticism, and this is a criticism, should be also supported with a constructive suggestion as to how we can do it better than the President of our country can.”