Category Archives: Today in History

38 Years ago today was Moratorium Day around the U.S.

It was called Moratorium Day and although the crowd at the largest march, held in DC, was low-balled at 250,000, it was more like half a million according to some estimates. The protest held a month earlier was larger but the message was still the same..people from all walks of life and all ages protested the war, the draft and Nixon. Individuals like Dr. Benjamin Spock came out against the war and spoke at many of the protests.

“What is the use of physicians like myself trying to help parents to bring up children healthy and happy, to have them killed in such numbers for a cause that is ignoble?”
-Dr. Benjamin Spock, pediatrician, author, antiwar activist

“The Establishment… has led us into the stupidest and cruelest war in all history. That war is a moral and political disaster — a terrible cancer eating away at the soul of our nation.”
-George McGovern

At that point in the Vietnam war, roughly 33,000 soldiers had been killed. A snip from an essay on the Vietnam Antiwar movement:

The antiwar movement reached its zenith under President Richard M. .Nixon. In October 1969, more than 2 million people participated in Vietnam Moratorium protests across the country. The following month, over 500,000 demonstrated in Washington and 150,000 in San Francisco. Militant protest, mainly youthful, continued to spread, leading many Americans to wonder whether the war was worth a split society. And other forms of antiwar activity persisted. The Nixon administration took a host of measures to blunt the movement, mainly mobilizing supporters, smearing the movement, tracking it, withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam, instituting a draft lottery, and eventually ending draft calls.

An interesting perspective on the Mobilization movement, dubbed the New Mobe can be found here. Its from the Harvard Crimson, a college newspaper that has continuously printed daily since 1873. Its about the day before, and how the students in charge attempted to plan the logistics for the expected 250,000 protesters. A snippet:

Today, stink bombs are no more a problem than housing, feeding, and marching 250,000 people this weekend. With a casualness that closely resembles disorganization. New Mobe volunteer workers are treating that as no problem at all.

Six Kent State students walk into the office explaining that they have food for 10,000 people coming in this afternoon and that they need a place to put it. A skinny blonde, who assumed control of the “logistics” office early Thursday, looks on the map, reads off the street address of a reception center, then picks up a ringing phone.

Ah, the good ol’ days..coalitions were fractured just as they are today, but everyone agreed that the war must end.

Six months later, 4 students were killed at Kent State by the National Guard.