Pentagon March

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / College Teacher /
1967, @ K. 2002 11 13

In brief. The nation’s many dissidents were organizing a march on the Pentagon building just across the river from Washington DC. The government refused to license the march. Protesters decided to practice civil disobedience. I was teaching at Colby in Maine. A lot of rides were arranged. Hell of a trip from Waterville to DC: and back in time for class.

Hilary and I took Brian, then about a year old. We intended to hold him in our arms as we faced the loaded weapons of the US military. The in-laws talked us out of it: and we dropped bk with Hilary’s father in Georgetown. Very handy to have in-laws close to the seat of power (part of the seat of power, Marcus then being not only alive but an economist with the IMF and World Bank).

The march began with every sub-group seeming to hold some kind of banner. The Colby contingent had a sign that read “Colby Protests the War” or some such message. By the time we got to the pentagon and we, the unarmed masses, faced the terrified armed soldiers, I was plenty glad we hadn’t brought Brian. My arms were killing me just from having taken my share of a turn in holding up the damn sign. TIME Magazine’s photo of the day shows the Colby sign to be the only banner still readable from the air: at least at the angle and elevation the photographer snapped that one from. Nearly all the other banners had disintegrated or been dropped before we reached Virginia.

Pentagon Protest
thanx humanflowerproject

That was an unforgettable moment in my life: staring down the barrels of semi-automatic rifles you knew were loaded. We knew that the government didn’t want to just order the slaughter of its citizens, so many conspicuously university folk, yet the restraint had to be entrusted to a bunch of young men who very much didn’t want to be there. The marchers were volunteers; the soldiers were under orders. (How many of the soldiers the military placed on the Pentagon steps to protect tyrannical war from would-be democracy were conscripts? I bet they were all RA: enlistees.) As we did so, I was not at all sure that some half-hysterical marine wouldn’t just half-touch his trigger. By accident, of course. Once one weapon opened fire, all weapons would rapidly be emptied. Oh, it would be a terrible tragedy of course. An accident. One of those things that just seems to happen when a democratic government hardens its heart against listening to its citizens.

(Of course the government did listen to some citizens: with the result that other citizens had to be silenced. It’s always that way. Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Republicans and Democrats. Hawks and Doves. People who listen to Jesus and people who just pretend.)

I mix attributions above. RA means Regular Army whereas “marines” are a part of the navy. Army and Navy in the US are again like Bolsheviks and Mensheviks: enemies. The pentagon could have ordered either force to defend it from enraged citizens. But the guys were probably army. Marines are for storming beaches. They debouch from a boat; not from a train or helicopter.

The number of files here at  that begin stories without finishing them are unfortunately growing. I do go back and finish many, but simultaneously start more. The more stories I tell, the more I remember. Why do I remember so many? Because they all seem to me to illustrate something important about my main life’s themes. This file I intend to make a place holder.

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Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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