Imagine that the year is 1969, the war in Vietnam is raging and the war at home is equally strong against the conflict. You have just turned 18, and just as today, it is required of you to register for the draft. But you have seen the images on the TV every night about the bloody battles that go on halfway around the world, and deep inside you know that you want no part in this war. Maybe you can register as a contentious objector, so you won’t carry a gun, and maybe not. The war in Vietnam was branded “the most unpopular war ever fought by the US government. (2) The anti war thoughts and actions reached a climax in the early and mid sixties.

The first anti-war protests were held during the term of President Kennedy; but as the war continued, and casualties and the body count escalated, so did the frequency and the strength of the protests. Although it wasn’t until Johnson began his massive bombing raids of the North Vietnam in 1965, that the anti-war movement found its roots. Suddenly new words were beginning to come into popular speech. Words like “counter-culture,” “nonviolence,” “draft dodger” and many more came into daily life. 3) This was the beginning of the hippie culture, free love and a sexual revolution.

The country’s youth, who were dying in the line of fire, began asking for answers of why we were in Vietnam. They also didn’t see why peace talks kept starting and failing again and again. They all wanted to know what and why we were fighting in such an unclear time. By the time that 1967 rolled around the U. S. was consumed in civil unrest on all fronts of the home country. There were 100,000 people gathered in New York and thousands more in San Francisco that were protesting the actions of their government.

Riots sprouted all over the country and there was an enormous deceleration and decline in support for Johnson in all aspects. ” A poll conducted in 1965 found 60 percent of Americans favoring military involvement in Vietnam; by 1967 polls began to show a majority opposed to the war, and by 1971 over 60 percent were opposed. “(2) Young men that were just returning from the war were no longer becoming regarded as heroes and leaders, but as criminals and baby killers. As a result, young men burned draft cards, escaped to Canada, or reluctantly enlisted as conscientious objectors.

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Wisely, as his term ended, Johnson did not seek re-election. Twenty-five years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War. During that time, Americans have analyzed and been taught more about the history of the conflict and why it all began in the first place. Many agree that the Anti-war movement had significant impact on the length and perhaps even the outcome of the Vietnam War, but others disagree saying that the protests were part of an eroding and troubled society. One thing is certain however — the Anti-war movement left an everlasting mark on an entire generation and its country. (2)


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