To Build a Fire in the Heart of Our Country

By George Capaccio

But for most of us, the movement was a life-giving force. To join a hundred thousand others in marches and rallies, to know that even if you felt helpless against the power of government you were not alone in your feelings—that people all over the country, of all ages, black and white, working people and middle-class people, were with you—was to be moved beyond words. … to see Mohammed Ali defy the authorities even at the cost of his championship title, to hear Martin Luther King speak out against the war, to see little children marching with their parents, carrying signs—“Save the children of Vietnam”—was to feel the best of human beings were fighting your cause. … millions of people protested the war not because their own lives were at stake, but because they truly cared about other people’s lives, the lives of Vietnamese, of fellow Americans.

– from You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Trainby historian and activist Howard Zinn.

November 27, 2018 "Information Clearing House" -  When I was young and the war in Vietnam was raging, I rejected much of what I associated with a government and a society that could undertake the destruction of an entire people and still carry on as if there were nothing in the least bit abnormal about that state of affairs. In time, I saw that the way forward, at least for me, was to join those who understood just how evil the war was and how imperative it was for people to lift their voices, take to the streets, and risk their personal well being to protest the war.

Reading Zinn’s account of the Vietnam antiwar movement (in his book You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train) and how it grew from isolated pockets of opposition into a massive, nation-wide wave of resistance, I felt re-united with feelings that have languished inside me for the past decade and a half. In the winter of 2003, as the US prepared to invade Iraq, I was on the streets with hundreds of thousands of others who truly cared about preventing the needless deaths of both Iraqis and fellow Americans. For a time, I believed we would prevail over the Pentagon, the defense contractors, and the Department of Defense—each of which had its own reasons for wanting to prosecute yet another act of criminal aggression against a relatively defenseless country. This time around, however, it was conceivable that our passionate commitment to peace and its expression through movement building, rallies, and demonstrations might actually stay the hand of our “Commander-in-Chief” and his war-mongering, neo-conservative ideologues: Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.

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