Demonstrations and Protests - Civil Rights - Anti War


Our American system of civil liberties allows people to demonstrate and protest for and against a variety of governmental policies. This is an excellent system - it permits people to make their views known, and try to change public opinion and governmental policy.

The year after high school before I went into the Marine Corps I served for one year in the Prince of Peace Corps.  We were working in the inner city of Norfolk, Virginia, a tough place.  For the most part we just worked within the system.  I did a little protest work though - a local hospital provided very poor service for the friday night massacre crowd. I took a local thug who was coughing up blood into the hospital - they provided very haphazard and negligent help - I fired them up and threatened a protest - they defended themselves, but did apologize and promised to improve service.
I also organized a Boy Scout Troop. I filed to take them camping to the Dismal Swamp, a very dismal area south of Norfolk. The Scout Executive informed me that this was a white only camp - I said so ? - it was time to integrate it - He thought a while, and then said OK, so our little troop integrated the Dismal Swamp. We did not get any flack. 

When I was station in Yuma Arizona in 1967-68 the country was very worried about riots in the inner city. We were on call for San Francisco, and trained on how to handle riots. You could see our country was starting to become unglued - here we were preparing to go to war in Vietnam, and our country was so divided that we had to prepare for riots in our own country. Not very inspiring.

While in OCS in Quantico Virginia three Officer Candidates and I went to a very large demonstration in Washington DC - this was in late 1968 or early 1969.  We four big strong guys with very short hair did not fit in very well with the anti war crowd, but everyone was polite and good natured. The National Guard was there, but relaxed - looked like a good time.

In Vietnam the civilians got mad at us several times - usually about a traffic accident where one of our trucks had hurt a civilian. We let the Vietnamese Police handle these incidents.

After I was discharged I started College at the University of Illinois Chicago in 1971. About 30 people were enjoying the sun at an outdoor pavillion.  Three peace demonstrators came into the pavilion followed by a news film crew. They three folks used a bull horn to advocate that all of us march on City Hall to protest the war. We all ignored them but enjoyed the fuss.

One older guy with a red beard heckled the peace protesters. I suppose he was a Vet, but did not know for sure.  The Peacenik jumped up and hit the older bearded guy - pretty funny, but not very peaceful. Then they left the area followed by the camera crews.

On the news that night the camera crew made it look like a big demonstration - it was three people.

One of my favorite freshman classes was political science taught by Alderman / Professor Dick Simpson.  We conducted a political convention with about 350 class participants. As you can imagine, virtually all the students supported getting out of Vietnam immediately. I supported staying in - I stated that too many Vietnamese, Laotions, and Cambodians would be killed if we ran.  I wore my cammy jacket to make my speach. Not well received - I think my proposed plank lost about 350 to 2.