In November of 1969, 100,000 protestors took to the streets for the San Francisco Moratorium Peace March. I was there as we assembled at Kimbell Park in the Western Addition and wound our way along Geary Blvd. for the four-hour journey to Golden Gate Park, ending up at the Polo Fields for a rally. The Tet Offensive was in full swing, as North Vietnamese regulars pushed into the south. American bodies were needed. Nearly 500,000 U.S. troops were deployed to the conflict, a tenth of that number never coming home.
Those who were protesting the protestors argued that the marchers were all left wing agitators imported from the outside. As evidence they photographed the Communist Party of the U.S., which participated openly with their banner. Labor unions were present with their flags as well, but for the most part the throng consisted mostly of Mr. and Mrs. Average America, walking alongside teachers, scientists, librarians, firemen and even downtown suits.
1969 Peace March:
The 1969 Peace March culminated in a rally at the Polo Fields around 2:00 p.m. with such keynote speakers as Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Senator Morse from Oregon, and Black Panther leader, David Hilliard, who was drowned out with chants of “peace” when he began preaching violence. The cast of “Hair” performed some of their songs while protestors danced, threw confetti and sung “Let the Sun Shine”. Led by Professor Pierre Noyes of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, it was announced that a taxpayers’ suit would be filed against the United States, claiming that no war had been officially sanctioned by Congress.
While the Vietnam War was the creation of men in government, the brunt of the protest was thrown upon the soldier himself/herself. Several of my friends came home from the unofficial war only to be spat upon and cursed at. They were just doing their duty, a duty defined and demanded upon them by fear-mongering politicians.