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8 Essential Lessons We Learned From the Vietnam Antiwar Movement

May 10, 2015 in Blogs

By David Cortright, AlterNet

The movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power.

The Vietnam War is back, suddenly re-appearing in public consciousness on the 50th anniversary of the US escalation and 40thanniversary of the war’s end. In late April PBS aired several documentaries on the war—including My Lai Massacre, Last Days in Vietnam and The Draft. The Nation, Harpers, Mother Jones, AARP,The New Yorker and many other magazines have published feature articles in recent weeks.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first antiwar protests, the beginning of what Howard Zinn described as “the greatest antiwar movement the nation had ever experienced.” Despite the historic scale and impact of that vast struggle, the movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power.

On May 1st and 2nd more than 800 people gathered in Washington to pay tribute to the antiwar movement with an event entitled, “Vietnam: The Power of Protest.” Marge Tabankin and Heather Booth chaired. Phil Donahue, Juan Gonzales, Amy Goodman and Danny Glover emceed. Tom Hayden, Barbara Lee, Julian Bond, Patricia Schroeder, Ron Dellums and many others spoke. The purpose of the gathering was to recall the lies and deception that led to the war, acknowledge the role of the antiwar movement in helping to end the carnage, and identify the lessons of the war for the future of US policy.

Many different lessons of Vietnam were considered at the Washington event. Here are a few that were drafted by the organizing committee for the “Power of Protest” event.

1.     The Vietnam peace movement must be remembered as having shaken our country to its foundations and for defending democracy against secrecy and bureaucratic tyranny. The people today who want us to forget that the antiwar movement existed are the same people who want us to forget that America lost that war, and who are urging more military involvement and war today.

2.     The paradigm of the Cold War was wrong: Vietnam was not an arm of the Soviet Union, China and the ‘international communist conspiracy.’  It was a communist-led nationalist revolutionary movement with …read more


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