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Aired March 28, 2023

The Movement and the “Madman”

Film Description

Ver la película con subtítulos en español

The Movement and the “Madman” shows how two antiwar protests in the fall of 1969 — the largest the country had ever seen — pressured President Nixon to cancel what he called his “madman” plans for a massive escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam, including a threat to use nuclear weapons. At the time, protestors had no idea how influential they could be and how many lives they may have saved.

Told through remarkable archival footage and firsthand accounts from movement leaders, Nixon administration officials, historians, and others, the film explores how the leaders of the antiwar movement mobilized disparate groups from coast to coast to create two massive protests that changed history.



Produced and Directed By
Stephen Talbot

Edited By
Stephanie Mechura

Executive Producer
Robert Levering 

Archival Researcher
Blanche Chase

Music By
Osei Essed

Steve Ladd

Associate Producer  
Devin McCutchen

Assistant Editor
Julie Hwang

Andy Black
Richard Chisolm

Kim Aubry
Richard Chisolm
Luis Granados
Kenny Harrington
Dennis Jacobsen
Larry Peter
Bart Rankin
Kerry Sheridan
David Wendlinger
Taylor Wizner
Benjamin Wollner  

Graphic Design
Michael Frederick
Frederick Huxham

Sound Mixing
Skywalker Sound
Christopher Barnett
Cameron Wiggins
David C. Hughes
Dmitri Makarov                                                                             

Post Production Supervisor
Zap Zoetrope Aubry Productions     
Kim Aubry

Online Editor
Ashley Paganl

Color Grading                                    
Leo Hallal

Production Consultants
David Davis
Abby Ginzberg

Eva M. Santelli

Isaac Hager
Justine Jacob

Fiscal Sponsor
Filmmakers Collaborative Inc.

Music Clearance
The Rights Workshop
Maryam Battaglia

Spanish Translation
Diana Trudell 

Archival Materials Courtesy of                                               
Richard Abbott
ABCnews Videosource
Akron Beacon Journal
Patrick Frazier Political and Social Movements Collection,
American University Archives and Special Collections
Antioch Bookplate Co.     
The Associated Press           
The Boston Globe
Sam Brown
Stephen Bull
Ken Castle
Brenda Cavanaugh
David Cortright
Susan Miller Coulter                       
Catapult Sports, Inc.
CBS News / Veritone
The Central Intelligence Agency
Classic Images
Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections
Daved Dye
The Everett Collection , Inc.
David Fenton                        
Leonard Freed (C) /Magnum Photos
Getty Images                        
Estate of John C. Goodwin
Ullstein Bild - Fondation Horst Tappe / Granger
Get Archive LLC
Burt Glinn (C) /Magnum Photos
David Hartsough
David Hawk
Joan Libby Hawk                
Hilton Pictures
Historic Images
Internet Archive           
Jami Janes                            
Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum
KQED, Inc.
Yoko Ono Lennon
Library of Congress
Danny Lyon (C) / Magnum Photos
Metromedia Producers Corporation
Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Minneapolis Tribune
David Mixner                       
The Morning Call
National Archives And Records Administration
National Security Archive
NBC News Archives/Getty Images
The New York Times
Richard Nixon Presidential Library And Museum
All of Us or None Archive, Oakland Museum of California
Oddball Films
Periscope Films
William R. Stein
Mary Posner                         
Herbert Randall Freedom Summer Photographs, Special Collections in McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi
Harvey Richards Media Archive
Ben Shahn
The Sheboygan Press
Ron Sherman                       
G. William Jones Film And Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Stephen Talbot
Alison Teal                            
Ken Thompson, ©The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, Inc.  Used with permission of Global Ministries.
Jeff Albertson Photograph Collection, Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center, UMass Amherst Libraries
Peter Simon Collection, Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center, UMass Amherst Libraries
United Press International
United States Air Force
United States Navy
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Senate Historical Office
University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts
University Archives Photo Collection, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Archives
UW Oshkosh Archives
Joseph Urgo                          
Vanderbilt Television News Archive
Washington Area Spark
The Washington Post
Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine
Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor And Union Affairs, Wayne State University
Wisconsin Historical Society
The WNET Group

Additional Music
“All Along The Watchtower”
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Jimi Hendrix

“I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To Die Rag”
Words and Music by Joe McDonald
Performed by Country Joe & The Fish

“We Shall Not Be Moved”
Written by Keith Leon Potger, Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, Judith Durham
Performed by Pete Seeger

Written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner
Performed by Jefferson Airplane

"Embryonic Journey”
Written by Jorma Kaukonen, Jr
Performed by Jefferson Airplane

“The Times They Are A-Changin’”
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Peter, Paul And Mary

“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)”
Written by Pete Seeger
Performed by The Byrds

“People Got To Be Free”
Written by Edward Brigati and Felix Cavaliere
Performed by The Rascals

“Chimes of Freedom”
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by The Byrds

“Chimes of Freedom”
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Bob Dylan

“Fortunate Son”
Written by John Fogerty
Performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Something In The Air”
Written by John David Percy Keen
Performed by Thunderclap Newman

“Carry It On”
Written by Gil Turner
Performed by Judy Collins

The Movement And The “Madman” Original Production Funding Provided by
Jonathan Logan Family Foundation
Christopher And Nancy Meyer
Bill Prince
Daniel Whalen
Susan Barnes
Berkeley Film Foundation
Cynda Collins Arsenault
Paul Harris
Robert Estrin
And others
A complete list is available from PBS

American Experience Original Production Funding Provided by
Corporation For Public Broadcasting
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation
The Documentary Investment Group

Executive in Charge for PBS
Wendy Llinas

Produced by Glen Park Films LLC in association with PBS
© 2023 Glen Park Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


1968 presidential campaign

Announcer: Tonight, from Atlanta, live and in color: “The Nixon Answer.” Tonight, Richard Nixon in person is going to face a panel of citizens asking the questions they want answered.

Richard Nixon, Presidential Candidate: Thank you very much, thank you. Hi. How are you? Thank all of you in the 

studio audience for your warm welcome, and I just hope my campaigning’s a lot better than my putting (laughs). So we’ll start over on this side with Mr. Murphy from Atlanta.

Reg Murphy: Mr. Nixon, General Curtis LeMay became Governor Wallace's running mate 

today, and he immediately said that he would use a nuclear bomb to win in Vietnam. How do you feel about the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam or elsewhere?

Nixon, Presidential Candidate : I do not believe that nuclear bombs or nuclear weapons should be used in Vietnam, I do not think they’re necessary to be used in Vietnam. And we should not risk a nuclear war in Vietnam by any matter or means. 

That was his campaign promise. 
But Nixon had a secret plan to end the war.

Voice of Morton Halperin, Defense Department: We learned pretty quickly that his secret plan was to threaten the North Vietnamese with nuclear weapons. That was his plan. And he was convinced that the way to make the threat credible was for the North Vietnamese to fear that he was crazy and might actually do this.

Nixon called it his “madman” strategy.
By 1968, the U.S. had been at war in Vietnam for four years.
There were over 500,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.
31,000 Americans had been killed.
More than a million Vietnamese had died.

Walter Cronkite, Newscaster, Archive: Richard Nixon goes over the top with 287 Electoral votes, and that seems to be the 1968 election.

Voice of Rev. Dick Fernandez, Clergy and Laity Concerned: After his election there was a feeling in the anti-war movement of exhaustion. We felt devastated by the Nixon election. And there were a lot of questions like what should we be doing, what needs to be done and what do we do next? We didn’t know at that time that they were already planning to blowup Vietnam.

December 2, 1968
Nixon names his National Security Advisor

Richard Nixon: Dr. Kissinger is a man who is known to all people who are interested in foreign policy as perhaps one of the major scholars in America and the world today in this area, and I trust under his direction he will develop new ideas and new policies for the critical problems America has in the field of foreign policy around the world.

Produced and Directed by
Stephen Talbot

Edited by
Stephanie Mechura

Executive Producer
Robert Levering

Henry Kissinger, National Security Council: Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored by the confidence that the President Elect has expressed in me. And I shall serve the President Elect with all my energy and dedication.

Voice of Morton Halperin, Defense Department (1966-1969): Kissinger and I had been colleagues together at Harvard. 

I came into the government in ’66. And I very quickly came to believe that we had no idea what we were doing in Vietnam and that it was hopeless, and that we should get out. Which of course Kissinger knew.

Kissinger and I taught a seminar at Harvard called the Defense Policy Seminar. There's actually a very famous New York Times picture of the last class of the seminar in 1968 ‘cause I alerted the New York Times to the fact that this was going to be Henry's last class. The photographer walks in and Henry says, "This will be good for my megalomania." 

After the class was over Kissinger asked to talk to me. He said that he wanted to ask me to come and work for him in the White House and I immediately said yes.

Voice of Morton Halperin, Kissinger Aide: Kissinger had a sense of urgency because by Inauguration Day Nixon wanted a paper on 

options for what should be done in Vietnam. We looked at a range of options all the way 

towards the one that I favored, which was announcing that we would withdraw all our forces. 

The paper went to Nixon and his response was: “This is a good options paper, but the option that I'm interested in is not in the paper. And that is the option of escalating.” 

I was surprised by the escalation request, mostly because I thought it was infeasible, that the country wouldn't stand for it. And I said to Kissinger, “If you go in this direction, it will become Nixon’s war,” and Kissinger went off and talked to Nixon and came back and said, “He will be proud to have it called Nixon's war.”


Music — instrumental, Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower”

Voice of Tom Wells, Writer: Nixon wanted to end the war quickly. And the way he hoped to do that was by threatening the North Vietnamese with a major escalation of the war. And he had this idea that somehow he could convince the North Vietnamese that he was capable of anything — to blow them to smithereens.

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, former Defense Department analyst: H.R. Haldeman - who became Nixon’s Chief of Staff - revealed in his memoirs that during the ‘68 campaign Nixon had discussed with him how he expected effectively to win the war in 

Vietnam. Nixon’s secret plan was to threaten the North Vietnamese that he would go to a much higher level of escalation than President Johnson had ever managed, including the use of nuclear weapons.

But how to make the North Vietnamese believe that he would do it? 

He said, “We’ll get the word to them that this guy is unpredictable, crazy, we can’t control him and he has his finger on the nuclear button.” And Nixon said to Haldeman: "Ho Chi Minh will be in Paris the next day to negotiate.” And in his own mind the word was used - “madman!” He said, “I call it The Madman Theory, Bob.” And, by the way, privately I believe Nixon was that crazy.

Voice of Rev. Dick Fernandez, peace activist: My name is Dick Fernandez, I am a minister in the United Church of Christ. I worked for eight years as a director of Clergy and Laity Concerned during the Vietnam War.

In February of 1969 there was a group of us that went to see Kissinger: Coretta Scott King, William Sloane Coffin at Yale, Rabbi Abraham Heschel. And as we came in the door, you had these two Jewish men who had both escaped Nazi Germany and Poland respectively. You could kind of tell there was this recognition. 

We said we wanted the war to end and as our meeting went on at one point Kissinger said, “You know I’ve just been here six weeks, it takes a while.” He said to us, we need to be patient with them.

Rabbi Heschel, he kind of looked at  Kissinger, and he said, “You know, Mr. Secretary, the children of Vietnam are dying so you should hurry”. You could have heard a pin drop.

We didn't know at that time that they were already planning to blow up Vietnam. 


Sam Donaldson: It has now come to Richard Nixon as it came so often to his predecessor 

Lyndon Johnson. The sight of hundreds of sign-carrying women marching in front of the White House, demanding an immediate end to the war in Vietnam. It was all very peaceful and quiet, so was Lyndon Johnson’s first antiwar demonstration. 

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: Nixon is acutely aware of the fact that Lyndon Johnson's presidency had been essentially 

destroyed by the anti-war movement. That's not lost on him at all. And he doesn't want to be in that spot.  So from the very beginning Richard Nixon is always paying attention to the anti-war movement.

Voice of Cora Weiss, Women Strike for Peace: Women's Strike for Peace was a gathering of housewives, that's for sure. And we were all over the country.

We began getting worried about the Vietnam war. It was a war of atrocities. We committed crimes against humanity. t was horrible. And we were going to work to try to prevent this war from escalating and end it! 

Sam Donaldson: Today they marched from The White House to Capitol Hill. At the Capitol the women took turns listening to antiwar Congressmen…

Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-NY: The war should be ended immediately. We really need a complete re-evaluation of what this nation’s priority is going to be. And until we end the war in Vietnam and address ourselves to the domestic war at home we are going to continue to be in trouble in our country.

Voice of David Hawk, Anti-War activist: In the early sixties, what I was most concerned about was really the Civil Rights movement. I went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 as part of Mississippi Freedom Summer.  And being concerned with the issue of poverty in America, you could see easily who was getting sent to Vietnam and where in American society the draftees were coming from: the small towns, the farms and the ghettos.

And I went from concern about civil rights at home directly into concern for the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and many many of my colleagues and friends from the civil rights movement also transitioned into the anti-war movement.

I became the antiwar and anti-draft coordinator for the National Student Association and I organized a We Won't Go Letter addressed to Nixon advising him of how deep and how wide opposition to the war was on the campuses. And to our surprise, we were invited to meet with Henry Kissinger and Nixon's chief domestic advisor John Ehrlichman, and had that meeting in the Situation Room in the White House. 

Roger Black, University of Chicago: Dr. Kissinger repeated a number of times that we really should give them more time, be patient.  Dr. Kissinger said that If we came back a year from now and the war was still in the same position he would really have no moral argument against us.

Voice of David Hawk, anti-war activist: Kissinger left the room after 20, 30 minutes, and John Ehrlichman took the floor and was so hard line it shocked people. He said, “If you think that you can break laws you don't like, you're going to force us to up the ante to the point where we have to give out death sentences for traffic violations.” I mean, this was so off the wall, and over the top that everybody's jaw just dropped. What is this guy talking about? 

It was clear to everybody that the war was going to go on, these guys were not going to end it, and they might even be worse than the last bunch.

Voice of Roger Morris, National Security Council: I'm Roger Morris. I was on the National Security Council staff under Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon. Nixon intended to be very much his own secretary of state, as well as his own president. In foreign policy it would be in the end, Henry and Dick.

As early as the spring of 1969, we knew that Nixon was making very definite and often somewhat furtively menacing approaches to the Soviet Union. What struck me at the time is almost childish, if not adolescent playing with the whole issue, you'll have to get on board here with pressuring the North Vietnamese to end the war or terrible things will happen.

Voice of Stephen Bull, Presidents Nixon personal aide: I was a very, very strong supporter of Richard Nixon. He was my boss. I admired him and whatever his decision was, I was going to support it.

President Nixon wanted the Russians to believe that he would do anything. He wanted to make them think that he was a madman. However, my personal observation was, it was a bluff, he wasn’t going to do anything, he was never going to use nuclear weapons, but he wanted the threat to be out there to force them to the table. 

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, Defense Analyst, RAND Corporation: By May of 1969 Henry Kissinger had told Dobrynin, the Russian ambassador, Soviet ambassador, that if the North Vietnamese did not agree to Nixon's terms, we would move to measures of the greatest consequence, the gravest consequence. 

Voice of Morton Halperin, Kissinger aide: I found out about the threats in which Kissinger says to the Russian ambassador Dobrynin, "The president wants you to tell the Russians that the North Vietnamese have nothing to gain by waiting, that if they wait, things will get much worse. There will be terrible destruction". It did everything but use the word nuclear weapons, but it was clearly meant to be a nuclear threat which of course I found very disturbing.                                        

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: In May ‘69 you have The Battle of Hamburger Hill. It’s ery close to the Laotian border in a mountainous region.

Groups of soldiers are sent up the hill to get the North Vietnamese out, but they're in a terrible position. The enemy troops are on the top and they’re just killing them. But their officer cannot bear to give up. Hamburger Hill was a term that the men used because they were being ground up like ground meat. 

Eventually they actually take the Hill and of course by that point, the enemy's either dead or they've now crossed back over the border into Laos. So it's really a big nothing in terms of what they're achieving.

Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News June 10, 1969: Today, a squad leader wounded in those assaults, Sergeant Ken Tepper, talked about the fight.

Sgt. Ken Tepper: It seemed so useless because they just kept sending us up there and they were just slaughtering us. My best friend was right behind me with his machine gun, he got killed right there, got a bullet through his head and it was pretty awful. And I cried that night and many guys did.

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: Nixon sees this and he sends a message to Kissinger. “How in the world do people like that get put on the television? How did we allow that to happen?”

The absolute disconnection, both of them,  between the things that they're deciding to do and the human costs of it, whether it's to our own soldiers or its civilians has absolutely no part of their thinking. They don't care.  

Harvard University, April 1969

Voice of Sam Brown, anti-war activist: I was teaching a seminar at Harvard at the time. In the  seminar, I said, “Let’s play a ‘what if?’ game. What if you wanted to end the war in Vietnam?”

We were casting about to see what other people were thinking. Jerry Grossman, who was a businessman, but deeply committed against the war, had come up with this idea of a national strike. Jerry came to the seminar and pitched this.

And over a period of weeks, we carried on a conversation about how is that going to work? Who's going to be attracted to that?  Will people be put off by the word strike?  And also, the question was, could you pull it off, that is, would people actually walk off their jobs? We began to think, on the other hand, maybe we could use that idea, reframed, saying not we are going to strike that day, but we are going to take some time to contemplate that day, we are going to set aside business as usual. And from that came the idea of the Moratorium.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium co-organizer: We thought there was a lot more latent opposition to the war that could be mobilized at the local level.  Since I had this active network of student leaders we decided to bring some of them back to Washington and Sam came down and laid out the idea.

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium organizer: You know, we were basically political people. We didn't think revolution was in the air. We didn't think that the United States is going to change overnight. So we wanted to find a way that made people feel comfortable. Made them feel like, Oh, I've been thinking about the war and maybe now I can actually do something right here in my hometown. So that was the intent of the Moratorium.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium co-organizer: We decided to give it a try and set October 15th as the target date.

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium organizer: Yeah. Well, we didn't know any better. Nobody had told us we couldn't do it. So we just sort of set out to do it. 

Song: Country Joe McDonald, “Fixin’ To Die Rag” 

Well, come on all of you big strong men
Uncle Sam needs your help again
Got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
Put down your books and pick up a gun
re gonna have a whole lot of fun
And it’
s one, two, three
What are we fighting for?
t ask me I dont give a damn
Next stop is Vietnam
And it’
s five, six, seven open up the pearly gates
Well, there ain’
t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! We’
re all gonna die

Voice of David Hartsough, Quaker lobbyist: I’m David Hartsough. And I was a lobbyist working on ending the war. My job was to help educate Congress and bring pressure on Congress about the war and trying to bring the truth to Congress. I was living the Vietnam war day and night, and feeling a heavy responsibility on my shoulders.

Every week 300 American soldiers were dying and thousands of Vietnamese. Quakers decided somehow we had to publicly help the American people understand the reality of what the war was costing in lives, and came up with the idea of reading the names of the American war dead on the Capitol steps, which we proceeded to do.  

We got through fifty, sixty names and we were arrested and taken off to jail.

The next Wednesday again we went back and continued reading the names of the war dead and we were again arrested and taken off to jail. Policeman into megaphone: Vacate forthwith or subject yourselves to arrest.

Voice of David Hartsough, Quaker lobbyist: So I went to see Congressman George Brown of southern California and I said, “George, is there anything you can do to help us?” He sits back on his swivel chair and says, “Yeah, I think I’ll join you.” (laughs)

Voice of News Reporter: “For the fourth straight Wednesday a group of Quakers tried to read from the Capitol steps the names of Americans killed in Vietnam. They were joined today by members of Congress who sat with them on the steps.

Voice of David Hartsough, Quaker lobbyist: The congressmen, they had congressional immunity, so we got arrested and they just continued  reading the names for hours and hours and hours. That got publicity and more members of Congress joined us. Charles Diggs from Detroit. Ed Koch who later became mayor of New York City.  Shirley Chisholm of New York.

Song: We Shall Not Be Moved by Pete Seeger and crowd
We shall not
We shall not be moved
We shall not
We shall not to be moved
Just like a tree that’s standing by the water
We shall not be moved 

Voice of David Hartsough, Quaker Lobbyist: I like to believe that our courage gave these congress people the courage to do what they 

believed was right, and their courage gave courage and encouragement to the media to begin sharing this terrible story of how many Americans and and how many Vietnamese were dying every single week.

Students at Texas Christian University, Ft. Worth, TXreading names of the war dead

Voice of David Hartsough, Quaker Lobbyist: Congress people inserted all 40,000 names of American war dead into the Congressional Record so that became public knowledge and people began reading the names of the war dead all over the country. 

The message we were trying to send out was this war has to end. This madness has to end.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono and friends, recording “Give Peace a Chance”
One, two, three four!
(strumming and vocalizing)

In May 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono turn their honeymoon into an anti-war event. In their hotel suite, they record a new song.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono:
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Voice of John Lennon: We tried to do it in New York but the American government wouldn't let us in. But we ended up doing it in Montreal instead and broadcasting across the border.

 “Give Peace a Chancequickly becomes a pop chart hit and a new anthem for the anti-war movement. 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Give Peace a Chance (con’t)
All we are saying is give peace a chance
OK, beautiful (applause)


Voice of Christian Appy, Historian: By the middle of 1969 many Americans, middle Americans, were beginning to think, you know, maybe it doesn't make sense for us to be continuing to send our sons to fight this war that seems unwinnable.

Washington DC
June 10, 1969

President Nixon: After 5 years in which more and more Americans have been sent to Vietnam we finally have reached the point where we can begin to bring Americans home from Vietnam.(applause)

Voice of Christian Appy, Historian: He did realize that he could no longer escalate the war of American ground troops in Vietnam, those soldiers had to be brought back. He wanted to bring them back as slowly as possible, but he understood that the American public could no longer tolerate large numbers of American body bags coming home.

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium Co-Organizer: You could not forget that June issue of Life magazine. I think Life may have had a circulation of five or 6 million or something. It seemed like it came to every home in America and suddenly here are these pictures and you have a face and a name. Not just, oh, last week, people died, which is horrifying, but it had become so normalized. That magazine brought back to reality that that new normal was terrible. It was devastating.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium Co-Organizer: Nixon announced the withdrawal of 25,000 troops but the rate of withdrawal they were talking about meant the war would go on for another four or five years!  We wanted to indicate that that won't do it. The war's gone on too long already. Just simply end it. End it! Bring them home, immediate withdrawal.

Song: Jefferson Airplane, “Volunteers”
We’re volunteers of America.

Voice of Joan Libby, Moratorium Staff: I was the student body president at Mount Holyoke, and I hated the war. I met David Hawk who was looking to hire people who were good organizers and could get things done. And of course at 21 (laugh) you knew that you could get anything done and I said, I’m in. 

I remember I packed my things in a cardboard box and went on an airplane. You know, I had no suitcase even.  And it’s a beehive, it’s frenetic, it’s organized!

Moratorium Headquarters, Washington, DC

News Reporter: At 26, Sam Brown is the oldest of the 4 Moratorium organizers and has a masters degree from Rutgers.

David Hawk is a quietly intense young man with the best connections to the radical left.  He graduated from Cornell, went to Harvard Divinity School and expects to go to prison in a few months for refusing the draft.

At 22, Marge Sklencar is extraordinary. She's been accepted at Yale Law School, works 18 hours a day, handles the money, breaks up the arguments, and knows everyone.

David Mixner was recruited by Brown for his long experience in student organization and his knowledge of Capitol Hill.

Song Refrain:
We’re volunteers of America.

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium Co-Organizer: My family has always had a great military history. All my uncles served in World War II. My father, and there was real pride in that. And then I had four members of my family die in Vietnam and my best friend from high school and elementary school died in Vietnam. All before they were 22.  It's something you never forget. And my sister and I became outspoken opponents against the war. 

And then I got a draft notice. There was no question in my mind, I wasn't going. The only question in my mind was whether to go overseas or jail.

And I dreaded telling my father. But I said, dad, I got drafted. And he sorta turned pale and I said, I know you're not going to like this, but I ain't goin’. I said, I sent a letter to the Salem 

County draft board saying, fuck you and fuck your war, I ain’t goin’. And that's exactly what I wrote. And he said, of course you're not goin’. We've given enough already. And he says, you'll go when the Rockefellers start sending their sons. Shocked the shit out of me. 

Voice of Joan Libby, Moratorium staff: I was from this working class town called Revere, Massachusetts. I did have a sense from my lower middle class upbringing and my father that I wanted to do something that would convince people who were like my parents to turn against the war. 

My father was in World War II and was a master Sergeant and came back from the war and became a police officer. My family is Jewish and my father had been with General Patton and had helped liberate the concentration camps.  So the notion of conscience was for me very important. And when I thought about Vietnam, I didn't want to say, you know, I just finished college and went to grad school, honey. I wanted to know that I did what I could in the smartest way I knew how to end the war in Vietnam. I was not going to be the bystander.

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium co-organizer: Mary McGrory was a Pulitzer Prize columnist at the Washington Evening Star at the time. Her column was in like 400 papers around the world. I mean, she was a star. And she was passionately committed against the war. She fell in love with the Moratorium. And she arranged a lunch with Ehrlichman. And the lunch went well and then he said, “You've got to call this off. This is treasonous. This is undercutting our troops. And if you don't, we'll put you in jail.”

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium Co-Organizer: One of us said, eventually you'll have to put us all in jail. And he made some joke in a kind of mock German accent about, “Well, we'll build the walls higher and higher.” That's pretty unnerving. (laughs) Thank you.

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium Co-Organizer: I was very much in the closet as a gay man. And I was living in total fear of that coming out. He knew of that. And before he left, he patted me on the knee and he said, “David, don't forget. We know all about you, ALL about you.” I knew what he was talking about. And it was scary.

Voice of Rev. Dick Fernandez, Mobilization steering committee: Over the July 4th weekend, a large group of us gathered in Cleveland, Ohio to plan a march on Washington. We called our coalition the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam or simply, “The Mobe.”

STEWART MEACHAM / American Friends Service CommitteeSIDNEY LENS / labor cctivistSIDNY PECK / Professor, Case Western Reserve
CORA WEISS / Women Strike for Peace
FRED HALSTEAD / Socialist Workers Party

News Reporter: The New Mobilization is a big, floppy umbrella, a loose, sometimes quarrelsome coalition of old left, new left, and ordinary liberals. It does not include the Yippies nor the Students for a Democratic Society. Its 60-member-plus steering committee does include a member of the Communist Party and two members of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party.

Voice of Frank Joyce, Anti-War Activist: If you can't handle a meeting that lasts 18 hours, you're not ready to be in the movement.

Now, that's kind of a joke and it's kind of funny, and it's also kind of true because we had really incredibly intense and lengthy discussions and debates at any Mobe meeting that I was ever at. 

Voice of Cora Weiss, Women Strike for Peace: I had to fight all the way for my points, and I frequently won.

SIDNEY PECK, Mobilization co-chair
RON YOUNG, Mobilization coordinator
SIDNEY LENS, Mobilization co-chair
CORA WEISS, Mobilization co-chair

Voice of Cora Weiss, Women Strike for Peace: My role, which I gave to myself, was to make sure that any demonstration that was planned would be safe for families. If I couldn't bring my children, I wasn't going to go to the demonstration and I wouldn't let them move off that issue until they agreed. I said we would triple our numbers if we let the whole family come or quadruple our numbers and violence was not going to win us any friends.

Voice of Margery Tabankin, Mobilization and Moratorium Volunteer: Cora was one tough cookie. She was one of the only people in combination with this incredible guy, Reverend Dick Fernandez, who was like the gentle giant of the anti-war movement. They were the only people who could actually hold together all the different wings of what was now a really massive anti-war movement in the country.

Voice of Rev. Dick Fernandez, Clergy and Laity Concerned: At the Cleveland meeting we agreed to organize major anti-war demonstrations in November. A 3-day protest in Washington and a large march and rally in San Francisco. We were able to figure out a way to lock arms going toward the Fall, fanning out across the country to stir up interest for the Fall anti-war protests.

Voice of Cora Weiss, New Mobilization Co-Chair: The public and the press spoke of November and October as The Moratorium days, not distinguishing between the two. 

We all wanted the war in Vietnam to stop. And we appealed to the conscience of the American people. All of the leaders had some contact with religion. I couldn't believe it. Dave Hawk and Sam Brown both went to theological seminary. Marge Sklencar had spent a year in a nunnery. Even Dave Dellinger from the new MOBE went to theological seminary. I mean, God must have been on our side!

Voice of Anthony Lake, Kissinger Aide: I'm Tony Lake. Vietnam was very much a part of my early life. I served in Vietnam for two years at the American embassy. And then as the Vice Consul in Hue in central Vietnam. 

In 1969, Kissinger convinced me to become his special assistant. He told me that he was going to end the war in Vietnam and he knew I was passionate by then in my belief that the war was a horrible mistake. And he was offering me the opportunity to work to try to end it. And so I agreed.

Paris, France, August 1969

Voice of Anthony Lake, Kissinger Aide: I flew with Kissinger to the secret meetings. The State Department was being completely cut out including the Secretary of State.  I did not believe that was the right way to run a railroad. But I wasn't going to violate the secrecy that Kissinger had sworn me to. 

Voice of Roger Morris, Kissinger Aide: Kissinger asked Tony Lake and me to be what he called his special project staff in those talks with the North Vietnamese. It was a stunning venture for me, meeting in safe houses in Paris completely off the record. 

Voice of Anthony Lake, Kissinger Aide: The strategy was to convince the North Vietnamese to withdraw their forces from South Vietnam. How do you do that? Well, the answer was to threaten them, and Kissinger began implementing the threats, built around the ultimatum that if they did not withdraw their forces or agree to withdraw their forces by November 1st, then there would be measures of great force taken against them. The threats were never specific. It was simply measures of great force.   

Xuan Thuy, Diplomat, North Vietnam: And it was clear from the face of the North Vietnamese negotiator that he was not particularly intimidated by the threat. 

Ho Chi Minh, president, North Vietnam

Anti-Aircraft missile site, North Vietnam

They'd built their whole lives around Vietnamese independence. I did not believe that any blow short of the almost complete destruction of North Vietnam was going to deter these people and those leaders who had spent their lifetimes fighting against foreign domination of their country.

Voice of Roger Morris, Kissinger Aide: The approaches to the North Vietnamese had not yielded very much of any value. And so, if I had to characterize the late summer of 1969, it would be a kind of frustration and dismay and that inevitably made for the planning for a resort to extreme violence. 

Cover:  Duck Hook, 20 July 1969

Voice of Tom Wells, Writer: The plan for dramatic escalation of the war was known as Operation “Duck Hook” And I'm not sure how they came up with that name. It's a golf term, for slicing it to the left when you hit a golf ball.

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: Duck Hook is a plan that Kissinger and his staff are working on. For Kissinger, the idea is that you're going to hit North Vietnam very hard, very dramatically, get a lot of casualties, scare them out of their wits and then pray that the North Vietnamese will now accept their terms.

Voice of Roger Morris, Kissinger Aide: A special working group was assembled and came to be known in some quarters as the September Group. It was strictly select people from the NSC staff handpicked by Kissinger. Its marching orders were very clear and had been cast by Kissinger himself, which was his famous remark, “I can't believe that a fourth rate power like North Vietnam does not have a breaking point.”

We formulated plans for a very, very punishing blow. And those plans were very sophisticated and detailed in military terms

Col. Alexander Haig, Military aide to Kissinger

Voice of Anthony Lake, Kissinger aide: The military planning was being done in the military section of the NSC staff.  I do remember looking at a draft and I do remember that it referred to the bombing of the dikes around the Red River in North Vietnam and being appalled at the thought of the devastation that would cause.

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, Defense analyst: The plans for escalation, code named Duck Hook, called for all kinds of escalations and options, including going into Cambodia and Laos, and possibly a full invasion of North Vietnam. 

Definitely for an expansion of bombing to all areas of North Vietnam up to the northernmost areas on the border with China and Including the use of nuclear weapons.

 “Top Secret” 
 “Vietnam Contingency Planning: Concept of Operations”  

September 13, 1969 

 “clean nuclear interdiction of three NVN-Laos passes”
 “nuclear interdiction of two NVN-CPR railroads”

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, Defense Analyst, RAND Corporation: Only a handful of people in the White House and the Pentagon knew that the war was on the verge of becoming much larger and possibly nuclear. 

Voice of Roger Morris, Kissinger Aide: The massive, savage blow that we contemplated in the September Group was going to kill hundreds of thousands of people. It was going to risk confrontation with the great powers. It was an extraordinarily risky and punishing option. I think Kissinger and Nixon were ruthless. I think in many respects they were savage. I think they were expedient. I think that for both men the end justified the means. And I think that they were, if not blind, relatively insensate to the sheer depth and breadth and horror of the human cost.

Voice of David Hartsough, Quaker Lobbyist: When I heard that there were some young people organizing what they called the Vietnam Moratorium, their office was over on Vermont Avenue, I went over to visit them and it was really inspiring! They were in touch with student groups and church groups, community people all over the country! 

Moratorium Headquarters, Washington DC

Song: “Turn! Turn! Turn!”  sung by the Byrds (background only)

Voice of Joan Libby, Moratorium staff: The people in the office were fantastic - they were bright and they were funny, and they all came from somewhere different. You got there early and fueled yourself on coffee and soda and cheap food. And worked until midnight, one or two, every day.

There was George Wiley who ran the Poor People’s Campaign. There were numerous people out of the civil rights movement like Fannie Lou Hamer. 

Paul Newman came in to kind of cheer us up at times, but also to use his network to help raise money and visibility and keep things going.

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium Co-Organizer: Bill Clinton was working with Senator Fulbright as an intern. He came over and Clinton and I hit it off instantly and became friends. Big country man, big hillbilly. And I mean it was so clear that he wanted to be president.  

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium Co-Organizer: A regular volunteer in our office, Betty Ann Ottinger, Dick Ottinger’s wife, was den mother to us all. She was 10 or 15 years older, and she was in the office every day. Wife of a congressman. 

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium Co-Organizer: I was put in charge of labor. The big unions had been very pro war, their rank and file. But these were the people we needed.

A man named Bill Dodds was Walter Reuthers’ top aide at the United Automobile Workers. And I went to Bill and Bill had behind him Ben Shahn’s lithograph of Gandhi and I knew I was in the right place. And I said, Bill, we're not going to stop this war until labor comes. And the only one that can make it a reality is Mr. Reuther and his brother, Victor. How do we do this? 

He said, first of all you have to understand there is strong support in the UAW members for the war so if it’s not done right Mr. Reuther could get hurt very badly. But we hammered out an agreement where Walter Reuther would be the first major labor leader to come out against the war. 

So Sam Brown came with me, and we met with Mr. Reuther and outlined what he would do and what he wouldn’t do.

And I'll never forget, he hugged us and said, I'm so proud of you. You remind me of Victor and I in the early years in the labor movement. And I said, I can't think of any greater compliment that you could have given us Mr. Reuther.  And we're walking through the door and he has his arms on Sam and my shoulder. He said, ‘Did I ever tell you about going to the dentist?” and I thought, what the fuck is this? Is it some sort of joke? And he said, “I hated to go to the dentist more than anything in the world. But finally, I got this toothache that I couldn't live with. So I went in and I got in that chair. And that dentist came at me with that buzz saw towards my tooth. And I grabbed him by the balls and squeezed them hard and looked him in the eyes and said, We're not going to hurt each other are we doctor?” 

I knew what that story was about. It was like, don't you fuck me. Or I'll have you both by the balls. And I said, “Mr. Reuther, that story is not wasted on us.” And he said, “I thought you would get it, David. I thought you would.”

Song: Peter, Paul and Mary, The Times They Are a Changin
“Come senators, congressman, please heed the call
t stand in the doorway, dont block up the hall

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium Co-Organizer: We got a huge number of endorsements, which had never before come out publicly as a unified opposition to the war. Congressman Don Riegle, Congressman Pete McCloskey. Senator Hatfield, McGovern. And we got it being for immediate withdrawal. We didn’t budge on that. And I remember one Senator saying, David, you can't do that. And I said, well, we have to. And they said, well, how would you do it? It's just not practical. And I said, it’s real easy, stop making it complex. You put them on ships and planes and you point them East and you bring them home.

Song ends: “For the times they are a changin’”

Sept. 26, 1969

President Nixon: “Sit down, please.”

Reporter: Mr. President, what is your view, sir, concerning the student Moratorium and other campus demonstrations being planned for this Fall against the Vietnam War? 

President Nixon: I understand that there has been and continues to be opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation. As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it. 

However, under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium Co-Organizer: As soon as he said, under no circumstances, will I be affected by it whatsoever, we knew that it was much too harsh and cavalier a statement. So we seized on it. (laugh)  

September 27, 1969

Sam Brown, Moratorium Co-Organizer: “Good morning. I’m Sam Brown, one of the co-coordinators of the Vietnam Moratorium  Committee…"

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium Organizer: We immediately called a press conference which was extremely well attended with TV cameras and national reporters.

Sam Brown, Moratorium Co-Organizer: And we intend to build a movement which will make it imperative that the United States withdraw from Vietnam.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium Organizer: Our response to Nixon ended up being on the front page of the Washington Post. At which point newspapers editors around the country realized that the Moratorium was a big national story.

The same day, Kissinger delivers an urgent warning to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin.

Voice of Anthony Lake, Kissinger Aide: I was there when Kissinger told Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin that the train has left the station, i.e. that we were now going to go after the North Vietnamese with measures of great force, if the Soviets didn't help us by making the North Vietnamese agree.

Voice of Tom Wells, Writer: If the North Vietnamese did not come to satisfactory peace terms by November 1st they were going to dramatically escalate the war. Operation Duck Hook, what Kissinger called “a savage punishing blow,” possibly even using nuclear devices.

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, Defense Analyst: We had no notion that as of October 1969 the possibility of nuclear war lay weeks ahead.  

The Moratorium
October 15, 1969

Bethel College, Newton, KS

News reporter: The Mennonite bell at Bethel College was rung once for each of the American men killed in the war. It is still ringing tonight. It will still be ringing tomorrow.


News Reporter: A dove was released above Chicago’s Civic Center this afternoon, symbolizing in its flight to freedom the hopes of 5,000 peace demonstrators gathered in the plaza below. 

News Reporter: They came across the Charles River from Harvard and they marched from MIT and Boston University. They came from almost all of the city’s colleges and universities and despite their numbers their marches were peaceful.  Perhaps 100,000 came. At any rate never before has Boston seen so many demonstrate so peacefully for peace.

Voice of Joan Libby, Moratorium Staff: It was a really beautiful day. All of a sudden it is real. And that was like jubilant.    

Song: The Byrds, “Chimes of Freedom”
Far between sundown’s finish 
And midnight’
s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts
Struck shadows in these sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
And for each and every underdog  soldier in the night
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

IDs over montage of protests:
Michigan State University, Lansing, MI
Carlisle, PA
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Washington, DC
Cincinnati, OH
Middletown, CT
Denver, CO
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Atlanta, Georgia
Milwaukee, WISC
New Orleans
San Francisco

Voice of Melvin Small, Historian, Wayne State University: Nothing like this had ever been seen before. On October 15th, 1969, there were demonstrations, vigils, marches, appeals in at least 200 cities, involving at least 2 million people and maybe as many as 3 million. And it went from the East coast, from Maine, from New England all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Howard K. Smith, ABC News: The word protestor generally evokes an image of long hair and love beads. But today the crowds that marched and chanted and cheered the speeches looked more like a cross-section picked by the Census Bureau.

Los Angeles, CA
Harold Willens and Paul Schrade, United Auto Workers 

Harold Willens: I speak for Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace of which I am a co-founder, and which has some 2,600 executives who have endorsed and who support the Vietnam Moratorium.  We’re proud, we business executives, to stand behind them and support them in this remarkable, popular effort which they have launched and which is now taking on the proportions of a tidal wave.

Berkeley, CA
Reading the names of the war dead in the rain

University of California, Berkeley

Fannie Lou Hamer, UC Berkeley: Bring those men home from Vietnam. I am sick of the racist war in Vietnam when we don't have justice in the United States.

Wall Street, New York City

Song: Rascals, “People Got to Be Free”
All the world over it’s so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free
Listen please listen, that’
s the way it should be
Deep in the valley, people got to be free
See that train over there?

Concert for Peace, Lincoln Center, New York City

John Lindsay, Mayor, New York City: We ask every citizen to examine his own conscience.

World Series, Game 4, Shea Stadium, NY

Announcer: Welcome to the 4th game of the 1969 World Series. The amazing New York Mets, underdogs when this Series began, now lead the Baltimore Orioles two games to one.

 “If the Mets can win the World Series, then we can get out of Vietnam.”-Tom Seaver, Mets pitcher

Washington, DC

Song, Bob Dylan, “Chimes of Freedom”
Far between sundown’s finish and midnights broken toll
We ducked inside the doorways, the thunder went crashing
As majestic bells of bolts…

Voice of Margery Tabankin, Moratorium organizer, University of Wisconsin: The brilliance of the Moratorium was that it put front and center real Americans from real America. What a brilliant idea to mainstream it and give it a face in the public that was not as threatening and was more understandable to the average person. This is for everybody!

Dallas, TX

Bob Dylan, “Chimes of Freedom” song ends:
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: Nixon is very disturbed by the Moratorium even though he announces that he's been paying no attention to it. And he's very, very worried about the second demonstration that's coming in November.

Voice of Tom Wells, Writer: Nixon was concerned that these protests in the fall of ’69 undercut the credibility of his ultimatum by convincing the North Vietnamese that he did not have enough domestic support to carry out his ultimatum. And that if he dramatically escalated the war, the country might explode.

Voice of Melvin Small, Historian, Wayne State University: Nixon folded.  He did not go through with Operation Duck Hook because he didn't think the American public would settle for the kind of military escalation that he had in mind. 

Voice of Anthony Lake, Kissinger aide: I know that Kissinger was very unhappy but do not ask me to get into the mind of Richard Nixon and tell you exactly what was going through it.

In his memoir, Nixon acknowledged the Moratorium’s impact.“Although publicIy I continued to ignore the raging antiwar controversy,I had to face the fact that it had probably destroyed the credibility of my ultimatum to Hanoi.” “It was important that the Communists not mistake as weakness the lack of dramatic action on my part in carrying out the ultimatum.”

“I thought the Soviets would need a special reminder.”

Voice of William Burr, Senior Analyst, National Security Archive: Nixon and Kissinger ordered a secret worldwide nuclear alert, in the hope that it would lend credibility to their prior warnings to Moscow and Hanoi.  It was supposed to be what Nixon called “a special reminder” of how far he might go.

Voice of Joe Urgo, U.S. Air Force Security Sergeant: After serving in Vietnam, in 1969 I was assigned to a base in Atlantic City. And we had nuclear bunkers with nuclear weapons at this base. In the fall of 1969, between the October 15th Moratorium and the November 15th Moratorium all of a sudden, we go on this alert. We had F-106 fighter interceptor jets and the planes are sitting out on the taxi-way loaded with nuclear weapons. Nobody was explaining anything to us and I was freaked out by this — seeing those planes out of the hangar loaded with nuclear weapons.

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, Former Nuclear War Planner, Defense Department: Nixon ordered a Strategic Air Command SAC alert that would make it look as though we were on the edge of launching nuclear war. Done in a way that would not be visible to the American people, Nixon demanded, but would be visible to the Soviets.

Voice of William Burr, National Security Archive: There was a risk that the Soviets could see the readiness measures nuclear alert as threatening but it was a risk that Nixon and Kissinger apparently thought was worth taking.

Animated map of the world showing nuclear alert activity

It involved nuclear military operations around the world carried out between October 13th and October 30th, 1969. The activities included movements of aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines to destroyers and to the shadowing of Soviet merchant ships sailing towards Haiphong Harbor. 

Beginning on October 27th, the SAC plan put six B-52s in the air. For 18 hours stretches each day for three days in a row. All over northern Alaska. Nixon assumed that he could bend Cold War adversaries to his will by making them fear that he was crazy enough to launch a nuclear attack.

It remains to be learned what exactly Moscow made of the alert.

What is known is that the nuclear ploy failed to move the Soviets, and that failure marked a turning point in the administration's strategy for exiting from Vietnam. 

November 3, 1969

President Nixon: Good evening, my fellow Americans. Tonight I want to talk to you on a subject of deep concern to all Americans and to many people in all parts of the world, the war in Vietnam.

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: Nixon had planned to give a speech on November 3rd, and the speech that he intended to give was supposed to be announcing his escalation of the war. But that's no longer in the hopper, and so now he’s very clear that he’s going to direct his  November speech really to the question of how to diffuse the peace movement.

President Nixon: In San Francisco a few weeks ago, I saw demonstrators carrying signs reading, “Lose in Vietnam - bring the boys home!”  

As President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the nation by mounting demonstrations in the streets.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium Co-Organizer: In Nixon's November 3rd speech he made very clear that the war was going to go on and that he was gonna attack the opponents of the war.

President Nixon: And so tonight, to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support.  Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us  understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.

Voice of Stephen Bull, Presidents Nixons Personal Aide: I believe that the "silent majority" speech gave permission for those who were being cowed by the Left to stand up and say, "No, you violent, anti American people are wrong. We're standing up for America. And we're standing up for this President." 

I remember him being in a very good mood the next morning. His desk was covered with a mountain of telegrams congratulating the president on his speech and pledging support. 

Voice of Melvin Small, Historian, Wayne State University: Now, obviously a lot of people sent in telegrams and letters to the White House but a lot of the letters that arrived at the White House were a part of a secret run program by the Republican National Committee.

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian, Hofstra University: They want to make sure that the White House is flooded with telegrams and phone calls that will express vast enthusiasm for what he's just said.  They've already developed a network for doing it. They have a whole set of organizations that are in place to get their members to make phone calls, to send these telegrams, so that's a setup by them.

Voice of Christian Appy, Historian: As a backlash to the anti-war demonstrations of the Fall of 1969, many powerful people around the country who supported the war rallied around Nixon. And he began to really successfully turn the debates around Vietnam into a debate around patriotism and cast anti-war activists as unpatriotic, playing a kind of divisive politics that the Nixon administration was really expert at doing.

Carl Stern, News Reporter: A massive anti-war march with a quarter to a half-million people is supposed to come down Pennsylvania Avenue and past the White House November 15.

Voice of Melvin Small, Historian: Nixon is going into an offensive mode against the demonstrators and he knows that on November 15th there is going to be a massive demonstration led by the New MOBE.  

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: The positive coverage that had been the case with the Moratorium, Nixon doesn’t want that to happen again.

Voice of Pat Buchanan, Nixon Aide: So I wrote Nixon a memo, and I said, “It’s time to attack the media.” And I said the Vice  President of the United States ought to deliver this speech, and so I wrote that Agnew speech. And there was one editor for that Agnew speech: Richard Milhouse Nixon. And he said, “This’ll tear the scab off those bastards.”  And we broke out laughin’ (laughs)... and it did.

Spiro Agnew, Vice President: How many marches and demonstrations would we have if the marchers did not know that the ever-faithful TV cameras would be there to record their antics for the next news show? (big applause)

Voice of Carolyn Eisenberg, Historian: They get Agnew to give a major speech attacking the media and they put pressure on the media to run Agnew's speech in its entirety, which they do.

Voice of Melvin Small, Historian: Nixon has his Vice-President Spiro Agnew go on the attack directly against the media. He  attacked the elitism of the Eastern elites, the people in Washington, in New York. He earlier had called them “the nattering nabobs of negativism.” “Who elected these people to tell you what to think?” 

Vice-President Spiro Agnew: The views of the majority of this fraternity do not — and I repeat, not — represent the views of America. (applause)

Voice of Melvin Small, Historian: It is interesting to note that journalism scholars think this is the beginning of the American people beginning to lose faith in their media. 

Weatherman Days of Rage
Chicago, October 8-11, 1969

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium Co-Organizer: A day or two before the November march, Bill Ayers, who was then with the Weathermen, he came into the office to say that their intent was to mount an attack on the Justice Department during the demonstration. But he knew that we had been very successful raising money and that if we gave them as I recall, $20,000, they would call off the demonstration at the Justice Department. Straight out blackmail. Extortion, whatever. This was hard to believe that it was actually taking place. Of course we said, go away, get out of here. But we knew that that was a potential for incredible trouble.

New Mobe Headquarters
Washington, DC

Bolling Air Force Base
Washington DC

Bill Downs, ABC News: It’s estimated that some 3,000 troops will be bivouacked here under canvas during the crisis period. Marines from the 2nd Marine Division which will be flown in later tonight making up the total of 9,000 troops activated. They have been especially trained in civil disturbance and mob control. They brought their duffle bags, their M-16s …

Voice of David Mixner, Moratorium Co-Organizer: They played for keeps. I remember the trucks coming in, federal troops with their bayonets and their gas masks, and they put buses around the White House.

Voice of Stephen Bull, President Nixons Personal aAde: In preparation for this huge demonstration that was expected, President Nixon had the White House ringed by buses, parked bumper to bumper. There were troops in full gear, full military troops, not National Guard. And it certainly was pretty stark and quite tangible evidence that this country was close to a revolution.

The March Against Death
November 13-15, 1969

Voice of Brenda (Genest) Cavanaugh, War Widow: There were many, many buses with protesters from all over the States going to Washington. My sister, Jill, was four years younger than me. So she was 17 at the time.  And we took a bus to Washington. Of course my sign was my husband Dick Genest.  He was in the 197th Artillery of the National Guard. There were five members of the New Hampshire National Guard in his convoy coming home. They hit a mine and killed them all instantly.  I'm sorry. I'm going to cry. (cries) The pain never goes away. It just takes part of your heart. It's cut out.  That’s the only way to describe it. 

Arlington National Cemetery
November 13, 1969

Stewart Meacham, Mobilization Co-Chair: In this march we will carry the names of those who are the victims of U.S. military policy in Vietnam. We will carry the names of the Americans. We will carry the names of the towns and the villages that have been bombed and burned out of existence. Through this march we commit ourselves to continue our protest and our resistance to this vast inhumanity until it has been ended. 

Boy: Well, my brother Mike was killed in the war. Our whole family is here.

Young man: I’m here because I believe there are a whole lot of soldiers over in Vietnam that would like to be here themselves. And they can’t be here, so I’m here protesting. 

Woman: I keep thinking of the man whose name I am carrying and of the candle I’m carrying for him. It keeps flickering out. And I see the candle as symbolic of his life. And I’m just very moved by this one man.

Voice of Susan Miller, Co-Coordinator, March Against Death: Between 47,000 and 50,000 people marched. The March Against Death lasted for 39 hours day and night. It took between three and four hours to walk the distance from Arlington, past the White House, over to the Capitol grounds. It was not a short walk. And it was freezing. I have never been so cold in my entire life.

Voice of Christian Appy, Historian: At one point during the candlelight ceremony out in front of the White House, Nixon turned to his aides and says “Can’t we get some helicopters to fly over that demonstration and blow out the candles?” Which shows you the level to which he was concerned about it.

National Cathedral, Washington, DC.  
November 14

Pete Seeger and congregation singing, We Shall Overcome 
We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace
We shall live in peace someday
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome some day. 

November 15, 1969               

Voice of Mary Posner, Ball State University, Indiana: About 35 of us got to Washington DC any way we could to participate in the national Mobilization. Me and a few other students crashed someplace in Washington DC. I have no idea who with, and we got up early on the morning of November 15th and made our way to the Mall and it was just this huge, huge crowd. And we just knew we were a part of this amazing group of people who all believed what we did, which was a great feeling to know that that many people were against the war. 

Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son”
Yeah, some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
Oh, they send you down to war
And when you ask 'em, "How much should we give?"
They only answer, "More, more, more"
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no military son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one

Voice of Cora Weiss, Mobilization Co-Chair: It was a very peaceful bipartisan demonstration. Charlie Goodell, a Republican member of the Senate and George McGovern, a Democratic member of the Senate, literally held hands leading the demonstration.

Voice of David Cortright, U.S. Army: The march was led by a contingent of active duty service members and then behind us was a group of veterans. So if you look at the photos from those days you can see, there we are with our short hair and these caps that say GIs for Peace. We are definitely unmistakable. We’re active duty people in the military, we have to follow orders to do our duty in the military but we’re also citizens and we oppose this war and we’re going to speak out against it.

Pete Seeger and Fred Kirkpatrick on stage singing “Bring Em Home

Rev. Fred Kirkpatrick and Pete Seeger
So if you love your Uncle Sam
Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home
Support our boys in Vietnam
Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home
Richard Nixon thinks he’s slick
Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home
We’ve got to outwit that Tricky Dick, 
Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home

Dick Gregory, Comedian and Activist: Last month the president of the United States said nothing you young kids would do would have any effect on him. Well, I suggest to the president of the United States if he wanna know how much effect you youngsters can have on a president he should make one long distance phone call to the LBJ Ranch and ask that boy how much effect you can have. (cheering) 

Voice of Stephen Bull, President Nixons Personal Aide: There were about a half a million demonstrators from all over the country that gathered in Washington. And it just annoyed the heck out of me that here are these guys coming after President Nixon. I felt like so many others of us felt that they were wrong and we felt that they were left-wing useful idiots of the growing left-wing movement in the United States.

Voice of Christian Appy, Historian: Nixon of course said that he would pay no attention whatsoever to these demonstrations, in effect, the only college students he was interested in were the ones playing football on television. But he was in fact deeply obsessed with the anti-war movement. And was paying serious attention to the November demonstration. The White House became a kind of a bunker and fortress, and he had a military personnel stationed throughout the White House itself for fear that these demonstrators might actually assault the center of power.

Voice of Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser: You know, the White House was ringed by students. There are facilities in the White House in case of a bombing attack. And I moved into one of these facilities for a few days and slept in the basement of the White House. 

Voice of Anthony Lake, Henry Kissinger Aide: They were extremely concerned about their security and they were concerned by the size of the demonstration, and how it was helping keep the issue of Vietnam front and center.  I found it extremely painful. My wife, many of my friends, were outside the White House demonstrating, while I was inside. And I wanted to be outside. 

Richie Havens on stage singing Freedom
A long way from my home
Freedom! (repeats)

Arlo Guthrie on stage singing, This Land is Your Land
This land is your land and this land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream water
This land was made for you and me

IDs of speakers as Guthrie sings
Rev. William Sloane Coffin
Dr. Benjamin Spock
Ossie Davis, actor and activist
Leonard Bernstein
Sen. Charles Goodell, R-NY
Sen. George McGovern, D-SD
David Dellinger

Coretta Scott King: My dear peace loving friends. I want to thank you for providing me with one of the most awe inspiring experiences of my life. There is only one other experience that reminds me of this one today and that was the March on Washington in 1963. (applause)

Pete Seeger on stage leads crowd singing Give Peace a Chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance (repeats)

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium and Mobilization National Committee: We were concerned to make it a hugely successful event. And it was! (laugh) Primarily in my opinion, thanks to the music, which was out of this world  You know, a couple of hundred thousand people singing Give Peace a Chance within earshot of the White House. That was the high point of Saturday. 

Pete Seeger on stage leads crowd singing Give Peace a Chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance (repeats)
Are you listening, Nixon?
Are you listening, Agnew?
Are you listening in the Pentagon?
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Meanwhile, 3,000 miles away… 

Song: From cast of “Hair” — singing “Age of Aquarius”
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Mel Wax, KQED, San Francisco: “Here in San Francisco Moratorium Day protestors assembled early for the 7-mile march through downtown San Francisco to Golden Gate Park. 

Estimates of the crowd size vary but all agree it was the largest peace demonstration ever held in the Western United States, and it was peaceful.  

Cast of “Hair” sings “Let the Sunshine In” in Golden Gate Park

Rev. Ralph Abernathy:  What do you want?
Crowd: Peace!
Abernathy:  What do you want?
Crowd:  Peace!
Abernathy: When do you want it?
Crowd: Now!
Abernathy:  When do you want it?
Crowd: Now!

Rev. Ralph Abernathy: Who is the one callous individual who is going against the current of history and social change? Nixon’s the one! Who writes himself telegrams? (laughter)

Phil Ochs Singing I Aint MarchinAnymore
It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with a saber and a gun
Tell me, is it worth it all?

Call it peace or call it treason
Call it love or call it reason
But I ain’t a marchin’ anymore
No, I ain’t marchin’ anymore

Carl Reiner, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies: I have three words for you:  Crosby, Stills and Nash. (applause)

Crosby, Stills and Nash singing Find the Cost of Freedom
Find the cost of freedom 
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you 
Lay your body down

Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you 
Lay your body down

Stephen Sills:  “We love you! Right on!”  (applause)

Robert MacNeil, New York Public Television: And so it went off, the largest political demonstration in American history. Almost without violence. Late in the afternoon, several thousand demonstrators led by a hardcore of militants clashed with police outside the Justice Department.  They were driven off with tear gas.

Voice of Sam Brown, Moratorium Organizer: A group of people did go attack the Justice Department, but it was isolated.

Voice of Rev. Dick Fernandez, Mobilization Steering Committee: This was not a Sunday school picnic. People were upset and angry. We were part of a long train of people that try to make things right. I thought it was a terrific day for American democracy.

Song, Thunderclap Newman, “Something in the Air”
And you know that it’s right
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together, now

Voice of Susan Miller, March Against Death co-coordinator: We had brought 500,000 people to Washington, which at that time, and for quite a long time to come was the largest demonstration that had ever been organized.

Song Ends:
And you know that it’s right  
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together, now

Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News, Nov. 17, 1969: The White House acknowledged that the latest protests generally were peaceful, but stressed again that President Nixon does not intend to let policy be made in the streets.

Voice of Frank Joyce, Anti-War Activist: It quickly set in that the war raged on. That, however proud of ourselves, we might have been, we obviously, at that point, hadn't stopped the war.

Voice of Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers: The demonstrations in October and November of 1969 did not have the appearance of changing anything because the war went on as before. And none of the people who participated knew that the war had been within days or weeks of erupting enormously and becoming much bigger.  

The bottom line is I believe we would have had the first nuclear attacks since Nagasaki in 1969 had it not been for the October 15th demonstrations and the demonstrations in November.

Voice of David Hawk, Moratorium and Mobilization national committee: At the time we had no idea, it was only decades later when the archives were released that we realized what, in fact, we had accomplished!

Voice of Dick Fernandez, Mobilization Steering Committee: We now know we had a big impact on Nixon and Kissinger, what they thought they'd could get away with in November, namely blowing to bits Vietnam, and maybe even using nuclear weapons. They had to take it off the table. There were too many of us who were saying no now. 

Voice of Mary Posner, Anti-War Activist: And when I heard that news, I just cannot express what that meant to me. That after all these years, I finally knew that what we did had made such a significant difference.

Voice of Susan Miller, March Against Death Co-Coordinator: Nobody understood at the time that we had prevented an escalation of the war and actually saved people's lives. It tells me that this was the most amazing and most important thing I'd ever done in my life.

Voice of Don Riegle, former U.S. Congressman and Senator: The people stopped the war and made the Congress stop the war. And that's what finally brought the war to the end. They thought they could strong arm and bomb North Vietnam into submission, and that didn't work. And what we found was the limits of US power when you're trying to do the wrong thing in the wrong place.

Voice of Roger Morris, Former Aide to Kissinger: And the absolutely torturous, haunting reality hanging over all of this are the casualties. We must remember that when Nixon is inaugurated and Henry Kissinger hired, the names on that long black Wall in Washington were only half as long as they ended up being. And absolutely agonizing the mounting casualties on the Vietnamese side. And the price of Nixon’s “peace with honor” would be enormous. And I think in the end unforgivable.

Voice of Frank Joyce, Anti-War Activist: When I talk to young activists today, one of the points I make is you will not know in the moment the real impact of what you are doing, and you may not know it in a week. You may not know it in a month. You may not know it in a decade, but you are having an impact. It does matter.

Voice of Cora Weiss, Anti-War Activist: Never give up. It's very important. It's easy to get tired, it's easy to get discouraged. But we can't afford that. So don't give up. We didn't give up until it was over. 

Song: Judy Collins: “Carry It On”
There’s a man by my side walking
There’s a voice within me talking
There’s a word that needs saying
Carry it on, carry it on
Carry it on, carry it on

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