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2017 Letters to the Wall

Philip Jones Griffiths’ Viet Nam

2016 National Book Award Finalist, Viet Thanh Nguyen:

“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory . . . . Memory is haunted, not just by ghostly others but by the horrors we have done, seen, and condoned, or by the unspeakable things from which we have profited.”

Mission statement:

The Full Disclosure campaign is a Veterans For Peace effort to speak truth to power and keep alive the antiwar perspective on the American war in Viet Nam -- which is now approaching a series of 50th anniversary events. It represents a clear alternative to the Pentagon's current efforts to sanitize and mythologize the Vietnam war and to thereby legitimize further unnecessary and destructive wars.

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Please join us and TAKE THE PLEDGE: "I’m with Full Disclosure. I oppose the Pentagon campaign to re-write the history of the Vietnam War."

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This Month in History: 1967

April 4 Dr. Martin Luther King gives a major address (“Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence”) opposing the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City, calling the U.S. “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

“Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: ‘Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?’ ‘Why are you joining the voices of dissent?’ ‘Peace and civil rights don’t mix,’ they say. ‘Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,’ they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live…

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent….

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours…

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality…and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala — Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

The speech in its entirety can be found on the Full Disclosure web site at

As Taylor Branch recounts in At Canaan’s Edge, even some of King’s advisors believed that the speech was impolitic – “too advanced,” “not so balanced” as it should have been; while the political counselor of President Johnson, John P. Roche, wrote a confidential memorandum saying that King had “thrown in his lot with the commies.” As for the press, the New York Times in an editorial entitled “Dr. King’s Error” judged that King’s protest against the war was “wasteful and self-defeating” and likely to be “disastrous for both causes.” The Washington Post went further. It predicted that many who had once listened to King with respect “would never again accord him the same confidence”; and it concluded: “He has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, and his people.”

A 2013 PBS documentary about Whitney Young Jr. describes how that leader of the Urban League had a falling out with King because of his opposition to the war. The Pittsburgh Courier, a leading black newspaper in the country, said King was “tragically misleading” black Americans. The NAACP said it was improper for him to link the civil rights to opposition to the war.

April 6 Quang Tri (Quảng Trị) City is attacked by 2500 NLF and PAVN.

April 14 Richard M. Nixon visits Saigon and states that anti-war protests back in the U.S. are “prolonging the war.”

April 15 Anti-war demonstrations occur in New York and San Francisco. The Spring Mobilization’s massive march against the Vietnam War from Central Park to the UN attracted perhaps 400,000 people, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harry Belafonte, James Bevel, Dr. Benjamin Spock, and war veteran Jan Barry Crumb who marched and spoke. During the event many draft cards were burned. A simultaneous march in San Francisco was attended by Coretta Scott King along with 100,00 people.

James Bevel (on leave from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference –SCLC) was the Spring Mobilization’s chairman and initiator of the march on the U.N. Bevel was asked to organize the demonstration by nonviolent activists A.J. Muste and David Dellinger the plan was for just an April 15 rally in Central Park). Rev. Martin Luther King declared that the war was undermining President Johnson’s Great Society social reform programs, “…the pursuit of this widened war has narrowed the promised dimensions of the domestic welfare programs, making the poor white and Negro bear the heaviest burdens both at the front and at home.”

For images, see;_ylt=A0LEVve5xEJVnSMAw9snnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBsa3ZzMnBvBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw–?p=Vietnam+antiwar+demonstrations+1967&tnr=21&vid=1083430CCA537D5429981083430CCA537D542998&l=170& .

April 20 U.S. bombers target Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam for the first time.

April 24 April 24, Abbie Hoffman led a small group of protesters against both the war and capitalism who interrupted the New York Stock Exchange, causing chaos by throwing fistfuls of both real and fake dollars down from the gallery.

April 24-May 11 Hill fights rage at Khe Sanh between U.S. 3rd Marines and the North Vietnamese Army (PAVN). US reports 940 PAVN killed and American losses at 155 killed and 425 wounded. The isolated air base is located in mountainous terrain less than 10 miles from North Vietnam near the border of Laos.

April 24 General Westmoreland condemns anti-war demonstrators saying they give the North Vietnamese soldier “hope that he can win politically that which he cannot accomplish militarily.” Privately, he has already warned President Johnson “the war could go on indefinitely.”

April 26 “We Won’t Go” (to serve in Vietnam) petition sponsored by the Boston Draft Resistance Group (BDRG) published in the Harvard Crimson, initially with 86 signers. By the end of 1967, at least 3,000 sign various “We Won’t Go” petitions.

" The Wall " - 1986 by Mike Hastie Army Medic Vietnam
Poster by Leslie Dwyer

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