Support War? I Would Prefer Not To.
I’m about to take my fourth journey to Washington, D.C.
My first trip was on an 8th grade class trip. I was 13.
On the tour of the Treasury I was impressed by skids of huge sheets of uncut paper money. There was of course the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments of note. And shaking hands with Robert F. Kennedy!
I was a student at St. George Ukrainian Catholic School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Could the nuns, even amidst the corporal punishment they doled, also have inadvertently planted seeds of Christian non-violence?
Years later Catholic anti-war activists like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Daniel and Phillip Berrigan would be an inspiration to me.
The next time I arrived at the capital city of the United States was just a couple years later under very different circumstances.
It was October the 21st. I bought myself a ticket on one of the organized buses to go from New York City to the March on the Pentagon—it was to be the largest protest ever against the war in Vietnam.
I was a couple months away from turning 16 and was very aware that there was a Death Lottery organized by my government that I was forced to sign up for when I turned 18. The winning drawn numbers would get to be trained to kill or be killed by people on the other side of the planet. Something to do with freedom and democracy. The wealthy and otherwise privileged had, as always, workarounds. (I refused to sign up—but that’s another story.)
More than 100,000 attended the rally by the Lincoln Memorial and then 50,000 marched across the Potomac River to The Pentagon.
Our bus broke down on the way and we had to wait for a replacement, hence arriving late and going straight to the Pentagon. The military police, rifles with fixed bayonets at the ready, had surrounded the building.
Elsewhere at the Pentagon a group of activists, led by Ed Sanders of The Fugs, led an…