The celebrated Catonsville 9 draft-file-burning action as covered by Democracy Now! on its 50th anniversary, May 17, 2018 Fifty years ago today, on May 17, 1968, in the Baltimore suburb of Catonsville, Maryland, a group of
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 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.
June 5 More than one hundred imprisoned soldiers rise up against deplorable and inhumane conditions at the Fort Dix stockade in New Jersey. The prisoners are made up of AWOLs, Vietnam War resisters and conscientious objectors from working class and rural backgrounds. 38 men are charged with rioting and arson. Dubbed the “Fort Dix 38,” they face court-martials and as a result some of the men were sentenced to military prison.
June 6 Washington DC – Mendel Rivers, Chairman of House Armed Services Committee, writes Rear Admiral Johnson, Chief of Legislative Liaison at the Pentagon, that OM The Servicemen’s Newsletterreflects a “gross abuse of the Constitutional right of free speech.”
June 7 Fort Ord – 14 Presidio 27 defendants are convicted at General court martial, and sentenced to terms ranging from three to 15 months. See entry for October 14, 1968, February 14 and March 18, 1969.
June 8 The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, or PRG, is formed as an underground government opposed to the South Vietnamese government of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Delegates of the National Liberation Front (NLF), as well as, the Alliance of National, Democratic and Peace Forces, the People’s Revolutionary Party (the South Vietnamese Communist party) and an “assortment of mass organizations, ethnic groups, and geopolitical regions.” “South Vietnam is independent, democratic, peaceful, and neutral”, according to one banner displayed prominently at the convention.
The PRG reflected a number of nationalist, anti-imperialist and communist political viewpoints. The PRG was envisioned as a political counter-force that could influence international public opinion in support of reunification and in opposition to the United States and the Republic of Vietnam.
The declared purpose of the PRG is to provide a formal NLF governmental structure and enhance its claim of representing “the Southern people”. Included in this strategy was the pursuit of a negotiated settlement to the war leading to reunification, organized during the initial phase of Vietnamization.
During the period 1969–70, most of the PRG’s cabinet ministries operate near the Cambodia border. The PRG came to be recognized as the government of South Vietnam by most Communist states.
President Nixon meets South Vietnam’s President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu at Midway Island and informs him that U.S. troop levels are going to be sharply reduced. During a press briefing with Thiệu Thiệu, Nixon announces “Vietnamization” of the war and a U.S. troop withdrawal of 25,000 men. In light of still-secret talks opening up with China for the first time in decades, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger calls Vietnam a “sideshow”.
June 13 Attorney General John Mitchell asserts that the government has the power to wiretap without court order any domestic group “which seeks to attack and subvert the government by unlawful means;” and he discloses the wiretapping of the Chicago Eight. See entry for August 26-29, 1968.
June 27Life magazine displays portrait photos of all 242 Americans killed in Vietnam during the previous week, including the 46 killed at ‘Hamburger Hill.’ The photos have a stunning impact on Americans nationwide as they view the once smiling young faces of the dead.
CMNAVFORV (Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam) activates Operation Sea Float– a floating Mobile Advanced Tactical Support Base (MATSB)–to establish a US and South Vietnamese naval presence in the Cua Lon (Cửa Lớn) River in the Ca Mau (Cà Mau) peninsula at the southern tip of Vietnam. Sea Float was moved ashore in September 1970.
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.”