Soldiers and Veterans March 1971 1972 Peace Marches
After making No Greater Cause in 1968, Harvey Richards continued to shoot footage and still photos of 1971 1972 peace marches against war in Vietnam. Four photo galleries below present his photography of four peace events during the 1970’s.
This footage and his photos shown in this post reveal the numbers, the faces, the picket signs, and the spirit of rebellion that grew towards the end of that hated war. They show active duty GI’s leafleting at the entrance to Travis Air Force Base and the march of Veterans Against the War down Market Street on Veterans Day, 1972.
Buy or license these photos. All images are copyrighted © Paul Richards 2001-2013.
1) Peace March of Spring, April 24, 1971 Down Geary Street.
Led by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the April 24, 1971 demonstrations included 500,000 people demonstrating in Washington, D.C., and simultaneously, over 150,000 people rallied in San Francisco. It was the largest-ever demonstration opposing a U.S. war. This demonstration was preceded by a week long series of actions in Washington DC also led by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. On April 23, around 1000 veterans threw their combat ribbons, helmets and uniforms down on the Capitol steps. The number and size of demonstrations grew steadily around the country as the Wikipedia list of protests against the Vietnam War shows . See also the Zinn Education Project.
2) GI’s Picket Travis Air Force Base, August, 1972
While the US and Vietnam were negotiating in Paris to find a way to end the war, American bombing of Vietnam intensified from May to October, 1972, in Operation Linebacker leading up to the infamous Christmas bombings called Operation Linebacker II. It was the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since World War II. The appearance of active duty GI’s at the gates of the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, reflected their awareness of the bombing campaign and the intense opposition to it by the GI’s who understood the destructive nature of this last gasp of US warfare in Vietnam. The military establishment was losing the war and falling into chaos as the war came to an end.
3) March to end the Vietnam War in San Francisco, October 14, 1972.
The October 14, 1972 demonstration against the war in Vietnam happened at a time when US involvement was declining. Deaths in the war fell steadily from the peak of 16,592 in 1968 to 641 in 1972. California led all states in the number of soldiers killed in the war. Vietnam Veterans Against the War led the protest once again. The sentiments of the demonstrators had shifted from “End the War Now” in the 1960’s to support for the 7 point program of the South Vietnam Provisional Revolutionary Government’s peace plan. Later, after the 1975 defeat of the Army of South Vietnam and withdrawal of American forces, the PRG merged with North Vietnam to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
And 4) the October 22, 1972 Veterans Day Parade of Vietnam Veterans for Peace.
The Vietnam Veterans Against the War contingent in the 1972 San Francisco Veteran’s Day parade left haunting images showing the extent of the rebellion of the US soldiers and civilians against the war. Just one month later, President Nixon defeated George McGovern in a landslide election. But even this election victory could not hold back the decay and chaos created by losing the war in Vietnam. Nixon resigned from the presidency rather than face impeachment on August 4, 1974 after the scandal of the Republican break ins at the Democratic Party offices in the Watergate building became public. The war ended April 30, 1975 in the complete defeat and withdrawal of American forces and the reunification of Vietnam in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. And yet, public opinion and the ruling groups in the USA have refused to come to terms with the defeat as the US continues to wage costly and self destructive wars around the globe. The US has lost every war since 1945.