It’s been almost 51 years to the day. But no one who was there has forgotten the energy and power of that afternoon.
October 15, 1969 was a national event: a “Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam,” Demonstrations occurred all over the country.
Sparked by young people, Westport protested too.
Staples students streamed out of school. Led by Westport police, and joined by teachers and junior high students, more than 1,200 marched down North Avenue, turned right on Long Lots, then onto the Post Road all the way to the YMCA.
Massing in front of the old Bedford building — the only part of the Y at that time — a crowd that swelled to 2,000 heard speakers, including Iowa Senator Harold Hughes and Temple Israel’s Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein, denounce the war and demand peace.
They wore black armbands and sported doves of peace. They carried American flags, and chanted “Hell no, we won’t go!” Counter-protesters drove alongside, cursing them. A few threw eggs.
A remarkable video of that Westport moratorium captures the day.
Staples senior Guy Northrop shot 17 minutes of the march, with a Bauer Super 8 camera. Eleven minutes survive, and have been posted on YouTube.
The video shows with remarkable freshness the power of that protest. It also serves as a unique time capsule. Much of Westport has changed since then. But much has not.