For nearly 10 years, America’s all-volunteer military has fought 2 costly, controversial wars.
Protests have been muted. A few people stand on the Post Road bridge every Saturday morning. Someone writes an occasional letter to the editor.
At Staples, high school students — few of whom even think of serving — scarcely give Iraq and Afghanistan a passing thought.
How different things were in 1969. Vietnam was a quagmire — and Westport was up in arms, on both sides of the issue. Loud anti-war protests took place at Town Hall every Saturday. After 3 hours of raucous debate the RTM passed — 17-15 — a resolution asking immediate action to withdraw from Southeast Asia.
Many Staples students — though certainly not all — were fervently anti-war. On October 15, 1200 students — joined by some from the 3 junior highs — celebrated a national Moratorium Day.
They — actually “we,” because I was among them — marched from the Staples tennis courts, down North Avenue and Long Lots Road, all the way to the steps of the YMCA.
We carried American flags and wore buttons saying “Peace Now” and “Hell No, We Won’t Go.” Along the way, other students threw eggs at us.
At the Y, we listened to speeches (including one by Iowa Senator Harold Hughes). We waved our fingers in the peace sign. We looked around, and were stunned at our numbers.
A year earlier, we had helped drive Lyndon Johnson from the presidency — but our new president was Richard Nixon. Finally, in 1973, a peace treaty was signed. Two years later the last Americans were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy roof.
In 1969, Adrian Hlynka was a Staples student. A gifted photographer, he took dozens of shots on Moratorium Day. Here is what it looked like to protest a war, more than 4 decades ago.