Wednesday, October 29, 2008

After Nixon was elected in 1968 I became generally disenchanted with politics and caught in the delights of university life, meeting lifelong friends, falling in love.

Spring of 1969 I remember a mix of political experiences and related feelings. That was the era of anti Viet Nam War protests - which were large on the University of Texas campus. I remember a highlight was hearing John Kenneth Galbraith speak to a crowd on the Campus mall. Lowlight for me was the irresponsible behavior of fellow protestors, many of whom seemed to be using the protests to smoke grass in the daytime, shock their parents and cut class, I saw a lot of drug related problems because I worked the first aid station. The thing that really got to me though was that they didn;t pick up litter and made big messes. The only speech I made at the rally was about how we had to take ourselves seriously enough to pick up after ourselves if we wanted others to take our message seriously. I remember feeling afraid because of the students shot at Kent State, afraid of the stories told by people who had been beaten up by police at the Chicago Democratic Convention. I remember talking to my Dad on the phone about the line between civil liberty and treason.


Joe Hendricks said...

At UT in Austin, I had been studying late at the library and started home. Soon, there was eye stinging smoke everywhere - some classmates had handcuffed themselves to the ROTC building and police were cjasing others all over the campus, dropping tear gas. That stuff stings! I think everyone at the library studying that night had to rinse out their eyes in the dorm..

Mary said...

In 1966-67 on campus I remember Vietnam war protests too. This is the only time I ever witnessed such a protest. I remember people marching in the streets of the small university town. I think many people were out there just to be out there amidst the group. It was a peaceful protest really, but I remember the firetrucks with firehoses available just in case.

Thinking of protests of this nature and others that have occured since, it is my thought that they really do not do much to change a situation or accomplish anything. I think what happens or does not happen politically is not influenced by such protests; and usually (you hit the nail on the head in your post) the irresponsible behavior - littering, perhaps destroying property as happens in some protests, extra police called out, is even hurtful to whatever cause. I guess I really don't have a protest mentality.

In college speech class a fellow student gave a speech about his brother, a soldier, who was missing in Vietnam. This was so sad / shocking for me. The brother was mentioned in newspapers too, and I followed the situation for a while. The brother remained a MIA - and is still. In fact, when I am finished posting here I am going to look up his name on 'google' and see if anything can be found about him today.

As far as smoking grass, I think I graduated right ahead of the 'grass era.' No one I knew used it. I did not see anyone using it. Truthfully, it was not even talked about. Soon after my graduation this all seems to have changed. And I think this was much different already on the west coast and also at UW - Madison in my state. But not my smaller campus in mid state where a lot of kids from small towns attended, many planning to teach or be foresters!

Peggy said...

I remember that period well. Our small university campus in a conservative area of Southern California did not have a lot of protest activity but a popular thing was to go up to Berkeley to the protests going on there. I felt strongly against the Vietnam War but the protests and wildness of many of the people participating kind of scared me. My parents were also anti-war as were many of their friends so I did not really see it as a way to shock them, as I know many did. I do think the era and all its protests and civil disobedience had a lasting effect on those who lived in the time and on people's future attitudes toward government. It was in that era that it became OK or even good to question government and authority in general and I think that is a healthy thing.

Anonymous said...