Many veterans came home from Vietnam with a mission: to tell the truth about the wartime atrocities being committed and demand an immediate end to the killing. In April 1971, a group of more than 1,000 veterans launched the Dewey Canyon III operation, a “limited incursion into the land of Congress.” They camped on the Washington Mall without a permit, defying a Supreme Court order that they be removed, and brought their antiwar message forcefully to the national government and the media. The week of action culminated in a dramatic scene, as veterans threw their military medals over a fence at the Capitol.
April 23 marks the 50th anniversary of that ceremony, described by observers at the time and historians since as one of the most influential anti-war actions of the era. It was the occasion when a young Lieutenant John Kerry gave historic testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A moment of turning, as Kerry said and historian Andrew Hunt wrote, when public opinion turned more decisively against the war.
Now, 50 years later, what lessons can we learn from this historic protest? How can the issues that motivated an earlier generation speak to veterans and soldiers today? Join us for a panel discussion highlighting the voices of veterans past and present. Featuring key archival footage and scholarly analysis, this conversation will show how issues of peace and justice raised a half-century ago remain timely and relevant today.
This discussion is presented by the Keough School of Global Affairs and its Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and is co-sponsored by Veterans For Peace and the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee.
Photo: Waging Peace in Vietnam