October 2017 Event Report
Summary of the events of our weekend conference and vigils- view speaker bios >
- view press coverage >
Friday, October 20 Vigil
Our weekend of activities began with a peaceful vigil and presence at The Pentagon near the former location of the steps where the sit-in occurred. The purpose of our gathering was to celebrate the first mass turn in of draft cards on this date fifty years ago and to make explicit US responsibility for the on-going humanitarian problems created by its prosecution of the war in Viet Nam. About 90 people including a contingent from Code Pink participated in the 2-hour vigil.
Speaking to those issues were:
Two local television stations covered our vigil as did The Pentagon’s news service. We received permission to have a film-maker video the event as well and soon it along with other footage from the weekend will be available on our website.
Saturday, October 21, Conference
Western Presbyterian Church
The central event of the VPCC weekend was the all-day conference in Foggy Bottom, DC. Its purposes were to recall and celebrate the significant 1967 demonstration at the Pentagon and how it shaped future anti-war resistance. We also recognized the anniversary of the draft resistance movement.
Underlining these presentations was the consistent message of the power of the anti-war movement and its importance in US history. The third of the four panels of speakers addressed the need to learn lessons from the war and US responsibilities for persistent problems both in Indochina and at home in the US. The final panel evaluated and critiqued the recent PBS series, The Vietnam War.
About 130 people gathered at the Western Presbyterian Church which provided an ideal and most cooperative venue. Attendees and speakers came from California, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, New York, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. About twenty percent had taken part in the demonstration fifty years ago.
After a welcome from Rev. Laura Cunningham and introductory remarks from John McAuliff and Terry Provance of the VPCC Committee, Peter Yarrow sang a moving and traditional song. John McAuliff gave an overview of the history and projects of our committee, especially remembering Tom Hayden, one of its founders who died in 2016.Terry Provance provided an introduction to the program and the themes to be covered by each panel. We welcomed Madam Ton Nu Thi Ninh who traveled from Viet Nam and remembered too the loss of Julian BondC-SPAN filmed the two morning panels. VPCC filmed the two afternoon panels. See links below to view.
The Four Panels
PANEL 1 discussed the political and peace movement contexts of 1967. A highlight was an impressive video of Dan Ellsberg walking us through that time 50 years ago. The 18-minute video is available here on our site.View Panel 1 on C-SPAN >
PANEL 2 remembered what exactly happened with the many parts of the 1967 demonstration. It included a slide presentation from Clay Risen of The New York Times and an account of Norman Mailer’s experience in the demonstration and review of his famous book, Armies of the Night. Then almost 15 individuals gave 3-5 minute testimonials from having been at the 1967 demonstration including the organizer of the rally and march, Susanne Jackson (then Sue Orrin).
View Panel 2 on C-SPAN >
PANEL 3 looked at the character of the anti-war movement after 1967, including opposition in the military and their actual relationship and of veterans with the civilian peace movement. Also discussed was the role of anti-war activists in post-war normalization and in healing the psychological wounds of returned US soldiers and in addressing current war legacy problems facing all three countries in Indochina.
View Panel 3 on YouTube >
PANEL 4 featured several speakers addressing the content and impact of the 10-part PBS Burns-Novick documentary. The anti-war activist (Bill Bigelow) featured in the documentary explained his mixed feelings about how his words were misused and yet the documentary informed millions of Americans about government deceit, duplicity and failures. Another speaker compared The Vietnam War with the Civil War film also made by Ken Burns and that viewers should not be surprised at the equivocal and biased treatment.
View Panel 4 on YouTube >
Get Involved with VPCC
If you would like to join any of the three Task Forces, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.We hope you will participate in our 2018 events and track these new projects by joining our email list.
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