Watching the current protests and listening to the students of Stoneman Douglas High School speak so eloquently and passionately, takes me back to 1968 when I was their age and protesting the Vietnam War.
The biggest difference I see when comparing our protests, is the current students’ use and availability of social media. The protests of today are heard at break-neck speed.
The student protest March 24 addressed the Second Amendment, and the desire to remove weapons of war from homes, my generation’s protests addressed our countries involvement in a war against communism. Politicians then were careful not to use the word war. Our protests escalated when the call for more troops prompted the introduction of the draft.
There was so much going on in our country when I was coming of age. As a Californian, I witnessed the organization of the Black Panthers.
Prominent members H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton infiltrated our high school campus, stirring fear and confusion among both black and white students.
Years later, when I could look back with a more mature viewpoint, I realized what their movement was about.
Now I recognize football player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem is a continuation, in some part, of that movement.
The youth of the 60s were passionate and vocal about protesting the war in Vietnam. Our government used the fear of communism to strike fear in the hearts of Americans. It reminds me of how certain politicians use the word socialism today. Some believe socialists are scary, just as we thought “the commies” were then.
In light, The Vietnam war was devastating. More than 58,000 died, and 304,000 were wounded, according to the United States Government Archives. This statistic shows that 300 percent more lives were lost than during WWll.
Thirteen years ago, I attended a march to protest the war in Iraq. Former defense secretary Robert McNamara, spoke during the event and finally admitted he was wrong about the war – validated our protest.
I have tremendous admiration for the students who marched March 24. I also marched because I share their desire to remove military style weapons from the streets of America. I am hopeful for success.