Tag Archives: Vietnam War

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Speech from Moratorium Day Rally at UCLA

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

National Moratorium

Autumn 1969. The Vietnam War continued. Protests continued. David Hawk and Sam Brown, two antiwar activists, forged a broad-based movement against the Vietnam War called the National Moratorium.

The organization initially focused its effort on 300 college campuses, but the idea soon grew and spread beyond the colleges and universities. Hawk and Brown were assisted by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which was instrumental in organizing the nation-wide protest.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Anti-anti

Many felt that these organizers were unpatriotic. Before the event, Los Angeles Mayor Samuel W. Yorty described them as “loud, marching, foolish and subversive dissenters.”

President Nixon urged Americans not to “buckle under” or “run away” from a “fair peace.” Senate minority leader Hugh Scott (R-PA)  scolded protesters they encouraged the US to “cut and run” and capitulate to the enemy.

Keep in mind that in 1969 TV for most people meant only nine letters: ABC, CBS, and NBC. If you didn’t see something there it wasn’t important. None of those networks planned on live coverage of the October 15 National Moratorium.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Pro-anti

Ben Kubasik, executive director of the National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting, said of the networks’ decision: What passes for the commercial networks’ news judgement astounds me. If a famous man had died, a manned moon space shot were launched, or President Nixon chose to go on the air to say he would be unmoved by the moratorium, those would have been carried alive. The Vietnam Moratorium is the greatest peaceful outpouring in our history and the networks choose to ignore it as it is happening by running regular programming.”

In New York City, as in many large urban areas, local electronic media did cover the event. For example alternate rock station WNEW-FM suspended all advertising for the entire day. WOR-TV devoted more than seven hours to coverage. WBAI-FM covered the event in its entirety.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Vietnam time zone

Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of Eastern time and so when a group of 20 young Americans assembled in front of the American Embassy at 10 AM on October 15, 1969, the National Moratorium began.

In New York City, the New York Times  headline was that “Tommie Agee’s Bat and Glove Lead Mets to Second World Series Victory.” Baseball fans across the country would be able to see game four that night and watch the Amazin’ Mets take a 3 – 1 lead on its way to an improbable World Championship.

Other smaller headlines that morning read “Massive Protest On Vietnam War Expected Today” and “Nixon Challenges Protest Leaders.”

Across the United States over two million people in their own cities and neighborhoods held protests against the War. Some read names of the war dead in town squares, some churches tolled their bells for each of the dead. One of the largest demonstrations occurred when 100,000 people converged on the Boston Common. Walter Cronkite called it “historic in its scope. Never before had so many demonstrated their hope for peace.”

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

and the beat went on

On April 28, 1970, Nixon authorized U.S. combat troops to cross the border from South Vietnam into Cambodia.

On April 30 Nixon announced that invasion and the expansion of the war.

On May 1 protests erupted on campuses across the US.

On May 3 during a press conference, the Republican governor of Ohio, James A. Rhodes, called anti-war protesters “the worst type of people we harbor in America, worse than the brown shirts and the communist element.” Rhodes ordered the National Guard to quell a demonstration at Kent State University.

On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops shot and killed four Kent State students protesting the war.

On May 6 hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation shut down as thousands of students join a nationwide campus protest.

Vice-President Spiro Agnew stated, “We have listened to these elitists laugh at honesty and thrift and hard work and prudence and logic and respect and self –denial. Why then are we surprised to discover we have traitors and thieves and perverts and irrational and illogical people in our midst?

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

15 October 1969 National Moratorium

Construction retaliation

On May 8 about 200 construction workers in New York City attacked a crowd of Vietnam war protesters. Some workers use pipes wrapped with the American flag. More than 70 people were injured, including four police officers. Peter Brennan, head of the New York building trades, was honored at the Nixon White House two weeks later. He later became Secretary of Labor.

On May 15 in Jackson, Mississippi police confronted a group of student protesters. The police opened fire, killing two students.

On May 20 around 100,000 people demonstrated in NYC’s Wall Street district in support of the war.

15 October 1969 National Moratorium
Please follow and like us:
0

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

June 21, 1920 — June 8, 1956

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

Apparently a person’s date of death is easier to determine than the date a war began.

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr  fought in World War II in the Navy. After the war he joined the Air Force and was eventually promoted to Technical Sargent. He served in Vietnam as part of the serving as part of the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), the advisors to the South Vietnamese army.

Fitzgibbon died on June 8, 1956 after S/Sgt Edward Clarke had shot him. On June 20, 1956, an Associated Press article in the New York Times reported the deaths:

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

 When the Vietnam Memorial was in its planning stages, one of the obvious decisions was “Who was the first American killed in Vietnam?” It would seem obvious that Fitzgibbon would at least have been one of the first if not the first.

Chronologically, he was as no other American military person had been killed in Vietnam since the US Government had begun sending MAAG personnel on September 3, 1950.

The first date used for the “beginning” of the war was January 1, 1961 because President Johnson had stated that Spec/4 James T. Davis, who died in a Viet Cong ambush on 22 December 1961, was “The first American to fall in defense of our freedom in Vietnam.”

For years, the Fitzgibbon family argued that Richard should be included. Finally the Department of Defense decided to use the start date November 1, 1955, thus qualifying Fitzgibbon.

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

Fitzgibbon’s son, Lance Cpl. Richard B Fitzgibbon III, joined the Marines because he wanted to connect to the place where his father had died.

Fitzgibbon III was killed in combat on Sept. 7, 1965, in Quang Tin, Vietnam, at the age of 21. The Fitzgibbon father-son deaths in Vietnam were one of three pairs: Leo Hester Sr. and his son Leo Hester Jr and Fred C. Jenkins and his son Bert M. Jenkins were the other two.

Richard B Fitzgibbon Jr

Please follow and like us:
0

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

May 3, 1970

The fuse is lit

May 4, 1970. Life ended suddenly and horribly for Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Knox life on the Kent State (OH) campus.

Like any historic event, the story was not a spontaneous one. The story had a lead up.

Ohio Governor James A Rhodes, first elected in 1963, had what was known then as a “law and order” view of unrest.

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

 From Mendo Coast article

Less than year before the tragic shootings at Kent State, the SAC [Special Agent in Charge] of the Cincinnati Bureau [FBI] sent [FBI Director] Hoover a memo detailing Rhodes’ attitude towards civil unrest: “He personally feels that the Director is the outstanding American and that he is the only person who has consistently opposed those persons who would subvert our government. He feels that the Director’s stated position of dealing firmly with these groups is the only sensible method.”

          “He [Rhodes] commented on the riots and unrest which have occurred repeatedly and said that some of this might well have been avoided if the Director’s warnings and advice had been followed. In Ohio, he has not hesitated to use the National Guard to deal with these situations and has instructed the Guard to act quickly and firmly. He feels that this is the only way to maintain law and order, and that the maintenance of law and order is the only way our government can survive,” the memo records. [my emphasis]

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

Cambodian Invastion

Keep in mind the days preceding May 4.

As promised by the newly-elect President Nixon, the Vietnam War seemed to be winding down. Then in late April of 1970, the US invaded Cambodia and widened the Vietnam War. Nixon announced the invasion on April 30, l970.

The next day student protests erupted on many college campuses. Kent State University was one of those place. Students planned a second rally for noon Monday 4 May.

Saturday 2 May. Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom asked Governor Rhodes to send in the Ohio National Guard. Stationed close by, the Guard arrived that evening to the burning of the University’s ROTC building.

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

Sunday 3 May

Sunday 3 May. About 1000 Ohio National Guardsmen occupied the campus, While tense, the mood was not threatening. Student quietly conversed with Guard members. It was on this day at a press conference that Ohio Governor James A Rhodes called the anti-war protesters “the worst type of people we harbor in America, worse than the brown shirts and the communist element

That evening confrontations between protesters and guardsmen occurred and once again rocks, tear gas, and arrests characterized a tense campus.

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

May 4, 1970

May 4 was simply another day in most ways. People awoke. Ate breakfast. Began their day.

“ABC” by the Jackson 5 was Billboard’s #1 single.  Ironically, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Trouble Water” was the #1 album.

The tragedy of May 4 would leave us perplexed, shocked, and with many questions.

Did the National Guard need to shoot? Were their lives in danger? Why were between 61 and 67 shots were fired in a 13 second period? Should the Guard have been on campus to begin with?

The 418 page Scranton Committee Report on the event determined that “The indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.

No legal proceedings ever found the Guard culpable and the January 1979 monetary settlement paid out of court by the State of Ohio was termed an apology, not an admission of guilt.

Regardless of any possibilities, for Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Knox life ended suddenly and horribly on May 4, 1970.

Ohio Governor James Rhodes

Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, Ohio Governor James Rhodes, 

Please follow and like us:
0