“This is my memory of meeting anti-war POW Col. Edison W. Miller.
On October 20th, 1977 as I waited for a press conference before returning to the US, Gloria Emerson and Cora Weiss introduced me to Col. Edison W. Miller. They introduced Miller saying he had just flown into Buffalo that morning to attend the news conference and walk across the Peace Bridge with me. They introduced him as a former POW. I asked him why he was there and he told me he simply wanted to walk with me.
My memory of the press conference is hazy. I know he spoke and Cora, along with Gold Star Mothers for Amnesty spokesperson Patricia Simon and attorney Ramsey Clark. A short You Tube video is here:
Anyway we headed out across the Peace Bridge, about fifty vets, my father, co-defendants of the Buffalo Nine trail — the usual rag tag assortment of anti-warriors. I remember being afraid but feeling really amped up, adrenaline pumping and my brain as clear. About halfway across the bridge I found myself between General Clark and Col. Miller. Ed started telling me about the day he was shot down and bailed out. He had broken his back upon landing and was unable to do much. Shortly thereafter, he was captured by either PRG/NVA (?) soldiers, placed on a stretcher, and carried by two men. As time passed, he came to understand he was being carried up the Ho Chi Minh trail. They eventually reached Hanoi. He was interred for five years, made anti-war statements, and was released. Upon release, he was transported to Hawaii for a physical and debriefing by “military authorities”.
He’s telling me this story as we’re walking towards US Customs holding hands and I’m about to be arrested. He says that the amazing part about the whole story is that when he received his medical discharge, Naval surgeons told him the only reason he was able to walk was due to the medical treatment he received from the day he was captured. Furthermore doctors told him that had he been “rescued”, surgery would have been performed and recovery of full mobility would have been slim.”
Toward an honest commemoration of the American War in Vietnam
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 being commemorated during this decade with a series of 50th anniversary events. Full Disclosure represents a clear alternative to the Pentagon’s current efforts to sanitize and mythologize that war, and to thereby legitimize further unnecessary and destructive wars.
An opinion poll indicates 71 percent of Americans approve of President Nixon’s Vietnam policy.
Nixon asserts: “I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war.”
At the same time, 58% of Gallup respondents say U.S. entry into the war was a mistake.
CIA-trained secret army under Vang Pao seizes the Plain of Jars and Communist-controlled Xieng Khoang.
After a series of reports in The New York Times, a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Stuart Symington holds closed hearings on the United States’ “secret” war in Laos.
Oct 1 – Meade County Judge rules that Fort Knox coffee house landlord had right to evict coffeehouse for non-payment of rent, in spite of the fact that the coffee house staff had attempted to pay the rent.
Oct 9 – Fort Knox Coffeehouse is firebombed.
Oct 9 – Bad Kreuznach Base, West Germany, locked down to stop on-base demonstration.
Oct 11 – 100 soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina (mostly returned combat veterans) march in a Moratorium against the War demonstration Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Oct 12 – Led by 100 women, close to 10,000 demonstrators march from the GI coffeehouse in Fort Dix in solidarity with the Fort Dix 38. See entry for June 5.
Oct 12 – 500 active-duty GIs march against the war in San Francisco.
Oct 13 – A group of GIs based around the Shelter Half use its facilities to produce the first issue of a new paper, Fed Up, followed a week later by a meeting on base to form a local chapter of the American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). When military police break up the meeting, the soldiers continue talking in the brig, and the ASU is born. The army eventually dropped all charges, and the newly formed ASU local, strengthened by its victory, grew to upwards of 75 members. The ASU and Fed Up organized not just around the war, but around radical issues that antiwar soldiers and the antiwar movement were drawn to: the ASU worked with the United Farm Workers to boycott non-union grapes and lettuce on base, and Fed Up featured articles on racism, imperialism, and capitalism.
Oct 15 – The “Moratorium” peace demonstration is held in Washington and several U.S. cities. The Moratorium developed from Jerome Grossman‘s April 20, 1969, call for a general strike if the war has not concluded by October. David Hawk and Sam Brown, who previously worked on the unsuccessful 1968 presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy, assisted by the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, changed the concept to a moratorium and began to organize as the Vietnam Moratorium Committee with David Mixner, Marge Sklenkar, John Gage, and others.
The event is a clear success, with millions participating throughout the world. Boston is the site of the largest turnout; about 100,000 attend a speech by anti-war Senator George McGovern. An Oxford Rhodes Scholar named Bill Clinton organizes and participates in the demonstration in England (this will be an issue in his future presidential campaign). See video.
Demonstration organizers receive support from North Vietnam Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng, who wrote to them: “…may your fall offensive succeed splendidly,” the first public acknowledgement of the American anti-war movement to come from Hanoi. Dong’s comments infuriate American conservatives including Vice President Spiro Agnew who lambastes the protesters as Communist “dupes” comprised of “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”
Oct 27-30 – Called Giant Lance, the operation launches 18 B-52 bombers, each armed with nuclear weapons, toward the eastern border of the Soviet Union. The bombers even required mid-air refueling – a procedure that posed the risk of the aircraft colliding and dropping their nuclear bombs at the border, something hardly advisable in such tense times, even if they weren’t armed. Halting at the edge of Soviet airspace, the nuclear-laden bombers prowl the skies for three days, taunting Soviet aircraft that had been launched in response. On the diplomatic side, Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev sends the Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Dobrynin, to meet with Kissinger and Nixon. At this meeting, Nixon continues with his “madman” ploy – lashing out at and even threatening the ambassador, who reported to Moscow: “Nixon is unable to control himself even in a conversation with a foreign ambassador.” Believing they have achieved their goals, on October 30, 1969, Nixon recalls the bombers and ends Giant Lance.
Oct 30 – Fort Knox coffeehouse is firebombed again.
Organizers of Fort Knox coffeehouse are indicted by Grand Jury of “criminal activity” at the coffeehouse.
Rep. Bob Wilson, Republican of California and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issues a press release saying that the Defense Department is warning military personnel “against associating themselves with the so-called ‘March Against Death’” (meaning the upcoming anti-war Moratorium demonstration on Nov 15.
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.”