Avatar No. 12
Nov. 10-Nov. 23, 1967, p.4

MEANWHILE: The war drags on

I woke up Sunday morning with a slight hangover expecting another day of being exposed to the the Christians who blossom forth on this one day of the week while during the remainder manage to hide out, probably in some subterranean cavern.

Before getting out of bed I thumbed through the Sunday papers that I had purchased on my way home home the night before. One article that caught my eye related to a mass pro-war demonstration which was to be held in Wakefield that afternoon. It told of the expected hundred thousand people who would turn out to rally around the flag for God, Family and Country (I never could understand why the three are arranged in that order).

Ever since moving to Boston one and a half years ago I have been exposed to all of the pros and cons of our involvement in Vietnam and somehow escaped with no firm viewpoint either way. I could argue for both sides but could not involve myself, which may seem odd when you consider that I'm 19 years old and 1-A. But nevertheless, Sunday morning my original intention of going to Wakefield was for diversion, a way to kill a Sunday.

I called on two of my anti-war friends who jumped at the chance to attend and arrived just prior to Governor Volpe's appearance. We made our way through the crowd trying to locate a familiar face and I was having difficulty understanding my friends feelings of animosity towards the people there. As far as I was concerned it was nothing more than a happy group of patriotic Americans. It didn't take long for me to be proven wrong.

Spotting a large sign proclaiming the single word, "Peace," we headed for it. When we found it, we noticed that there were several policemen standing about keeping the crowd away from the lone young man holding the sign. We approached him and were about five feet away when for no apparent reason a husky man reached out, tore down the sign and struck its carrier several times. As though this was a signal, others pushed through and began throwing punches.

Looking at the frenzied, hysterical faces made me feel quite sick. But at the time I couldn't have realized how sick I was to become. When police restored order temporarily, there was time for angry words to fly. Regardless of what kind of reasoning my friends tried to use, they were countered by a "...how'd you like a bust in the nose?!" or a Christian- " Fuckin' Commie!" I felt that it was time for me to speak. Turning to a screaming old man who claimed to be a veteran, I questioned his right to condemn the counter-demonstrators when all that he and his friends had to offer was abuse and verbal filth.

At this moment the crowd again erupted and attacked one of my friends along with a young girl and the sign carrier. As police and a few sane young men tried to form an avenue of escape, six or seven young teenagers approached me and in whispers told me that they were with us but could say nothing because of their parents.

It was at this point that I decided who must be right, by comparing the type of people on both sides. On one a vicious mob, on the other a lone young man pleading for peace. It suddenly became so clear.

But my nausea had not yet reached its peak. As the police aided my friend and the others to escape they formed a human chain allowing no one through. No one that is, except one man who produced a badge identifying himself as a Federal Agent. It was the same man who had started the whole mess by tearing down the peace sign and striking its carrier.

"Fight for God, Family and Country!" stated a sign in Wakefield, Sunday. I would fight for God if I believed in him, my family if it were in jeopardy, and my country if it was worth it. My America was inhabited by Lincolns, Washingtons and Jeffersons. The America I saw Sunday was infested with wolves, vipers and savages.

I am truly physically sick!

Pardon me while I vomit.

Seth Gordon

AVATAR photographs by John Goodwin