This paper discusses how the generation called the “Baby Boomer’s” changed the U.S. attitude towards the Viet Naum war.
How the “Baby Boomer’s” Changed Our Lives Ship of Fools The human race was dying out No one left to scream and shout People walking on the moon Smog will get you pretty soon Ev’ryone was hangin’ out Hangin’ up and hangin’ down Hangin’ in and holdin’ fast hope our little world will last Along came Mister Goodtrips Looking for a new ship Come on people, climb on board Come on baby, now we’re going home Ship of fools Ship of fools The human race was dying out No one left to scream and shout People walking on the moon Smog gonna get you pretty soon Ship of fools Ship of fools Ship of fools Ship of fools Ship of fools Ship of fools Ship of fools Yeah, climb on board Ship’s gonna leave y’all behind Climb on board Ship of fools Ship of fools When the soldiers returned from WWII, they returned to a country that was flourishing again. The Great Depression had finally come to an end, and the economy was back where it should be. “Leave it to Beaver” may have been somewhat stereotypical, but it still remains a fairly accurate portrayal of the average life in the post-war decade. Plenty of jobs for the men, and plenty of housework for the women. Life was easy, so people did what they did best, they reproduced. Because of the medical and technological breakthroughs, the infant mortality rate was greatly reduced, thus creating a “boom” of babies, aptly called the “baby boom.” This generation had one of the largest populations of any generation, ever. And, in the 1960s, This generation reached adolescence, and began adulthood, becoming the “Hippie” generation, one of the most historical, and the most influential of any generation on society. In the slang of the time, hip meant wise, or “tuned in,” a hippie was someone who saw the truth, and knew what was really going on. The people of the hippie generation despised phoniness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy. Rather, they appealed to openness, love, honesty, freedom, and the innocence and purity of their childhood values. To themselves, they were the dawn of a new society in America. A psychedelic society, almost utopian, in which love would be everywhere and people would help each other. (O’Neill 127) Drugs were very quickly associated with the hippies. You could often see people smoking marijuana on sidewalks, in parked cars, in doughnut shops, or relaxing on the grass of a public park, anywhere (O’Neill 125). LSD was also very prevalent. Both were to make the user more aware of reality, and to expand their minds. In an interview, Joyce Francisco said “Whenever I find myself becoming confused, I drop out and take a dose of acid. It’s a shortcut to reality; it throws you right into it. Everyone should take it, even children. Why shouldn’t they be enlightened early, instead of waiting until they’re old (O’Neill 134). Sex, or rather the promiscuity of sex, was quickly associated with Hippies as well. Nude parties, where people painted each other, were easily found. “Free Love”,”Make Love, Not War”, and “If it feels good, it must be good” (Zappa 98) were some of the mottoes of their generation, which changed many of society’s rules governing our clothing, speech, and taboos about sex, into the more relaxed ones of today. Because of the drugs, and the sex, and the immense population that was doing them, crime was reduced greatly. Even the most conservative members of a neighborhood would admit that the streets were safer than they had been for years. No one would rather worry about hoodlums carrying switchblades, when now they only had to step over an occasional giggling freak on the sidewalk(O’Neill 131). During this decade, the Vietnam war began, and many people joined groups dedicated to stopping the war. The Business Executives Movement, Chicago Area Draft REsistors, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Committee for Non Violent Action, Campaign to Stop Funding the War, national MOBilization to End war in vietnam, National Coordination Committee to End War in Vietnam, National Peace Action Coalition, The Resistance, Student Mobilization Committee, Student Nonviolent Coordination committee, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, War Resistors League, and Women Strike for Peace, to name just a few (DeBenedetti XV-XVI). Demonstrations on November 5-8, 1966 in New York, played a large part in linking the hippies with the anti-vietnam movement. About 3,000 hippies gathered in downtown New York and marched to the city’s rally of 10,000. They were dressed in old clothes, largely military, had “outrageous hairstyles” and were carrying an enormous stage prop Yellow Submarine. The hippies made the madness of the crowd into an occasion for joy and humor. There, Jerry Rubin remarked that he was all for the Marxist tradition “the revolutionary tradition of Groucho, Chico, Harpo, ; Karl (DeBenedetti 161-2)” Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin both were very influential in the anti-vietnam movement. Organizing marches, and leading their own fiascoes. One of these included surrounding the Pentagon with members of WSP, CADRE, NCNP, SDS, CORE, Vietnam Summer, and The Resistance. There he promised to levitate the building(DeBenedetti 188). He also poured a garbage bag of $1 bills off of the observation platform of the New York Stock Exchange, where the people below were trading, and handling millions of dollars. The traders started fighting over the bills, and the NYSE had to be completely shut down that day. Another of his protests was to take the flags of America and Vietnam, and make shirts from them. Then he and Jerry Rubin wore them walking down the street of New York. He was brutally arrested for wearing the American flag, while Jerry was hardly even noticed for wearing the flag of the “enemy” (Zappa 143). On October 16, the Resistance sponsored a nationwide Draft Card turn in, in an attempt to stop the war. Over 1,100 drafted men destroyed or turned in their cards. 4,000 people attended a service at Arlington Street Church, where William Sloane Coffin spoke. There, 87 men burned their cards over an altar, and 200 others turned theirs in. Other similar demonstrations happened in Cincinnati, and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. John Chancellor of NBC-TV remarked “If men like this are beginning to say things like this, I guess we had all better start paying attention.(DeBenedetti 195-6)” In a much larger protest, fifty thousand people walked from Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon’s north parking lot. Most sat down, but the SDS members in the group decided to try to rush the building. They were met by military police. People sang, shrieked, and fell limp when the officers tried to arrest them. The protesters were tear gassed, and After midnight, when most had disbanded, the govt. tried to regain the parking lot, yard by yard, beating the resistors into submission. The next day, only about 250 were left. 647 had been arrested, and 47 had been hospitalized. Protesters were confused when they realized that they were something their government needed protection from (DeBenedetti 197-8). Some people felt so strongly as to not only burn their cards, but themselves as well. Norman Morrison was the first. On Nov. 2, with his 18 month old daughter, walked to the river entrance of the pentagon, only about 50 yards from the Defense Secretary’s office. There he poured kerosene on himself and lit a match. Pentagon workers got the child before it was harmed, but Morrison was pronounced DOA. Another event happened shortly after. At a draft card burning ceremony in NY city, New Yorkers chanted “Give us joy, bomb hanoi.” and “Burn yourselves, not your cards!” This hatred confused Roger LaPorte. On the morning of November 9th, he sat in the UN’s Hammarskjold Plaza, poured 2 gallons of gasoline on himself, and lit it, burning over 95% of his body. He died thirty hours afterward. The attending priest called it “the most devout act of contrition I have ever seen.(Debenedetti 129-130)” These protests have greatly changed the way our society views war. It used to be an honor and a privilege to die for your country, but these protests, by such enormous groups of people woke everyone up. The draft has been revoked, and increasing amounts of people today are becoming pacifists, and seeing wars as senseless acts of murder. Works Cited Sugerman, Danny. The Doors, the Complete and Illustrated Lyrics. New York: Hyperion, 1991 DeBenedetti, Charles. An American Ordeal. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1990 O’Neill, William. American Society Since 1945. New York: New York Times Co., 1969 Zappa, Frank. The Real Frank Zappa Book. New York: Poseidon Press, 1989 Brautigan, Richard. Trout Fishing in America. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1967