And it's one, two, three,
what are we fightin' for?

"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag"
Country Joe McDonald  



Peace symbol from extra powder
Central Highlands  --   Kontum
6/14th Arty, 1st Field Forces
Photo: Dennis Proulx
early 1970

Background sound track - "Radio First Termer" - 
The Dave Rabbit radio show was an underground 
"outlaw" radio show in Vietnam during the war

Peace Brother!
GI flashing peace sign
FSB Veghel, Vietnam
Photo: Don Aird



No study of the Vietnam War would be complete without a long, serious look at the anti-war movement.   The Vietnam War became very controversial in the late 1960's and early 70's.


In early 1965, President Johnson after starting the "Rolling Thunder"
bombing campaign:

"I don't think anything is going 
to be as bad as losing, 
and I don't see any 
way of winning"


Some historians point to the TET Offensive in early 1968 as the major turning point for increased anti-war sentiment in the US, even though Viet Cong forces were severely decimated in their countrywide attacks.


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Late in the war, even Vietnam Veterans began to sponsor anti-war rallies in Washington, DC.  During one such rally, veterans threw their medals away to indicate their disgust with the ongoing war.


President Nixon, in a cryptic Memo to
Henry Kissinger in October of 1969:
"Is it possible we were wrong
from the start in Vietnam?"


'Peace signs' began to appear more frequently in Vietnam after 1968.  The "V" hand signal, which meant "Victory" during World War 2, became as common as the traditional "upside down Y"  peace sign.


Peace sign necklace


Depending on a person's opinion of the Vietnam War, you were considered either a "hawk" (pro-war) or a "dove" (anti-war).  These sorts of divisions even occurred within families, symbolizing the great emotional turmoil which was created by the United States longest war, half-a-world away in Southeast Asia.


APC with peace sign

"War is a crime. Ask the infantry and the dead."


The Just War Doctrine

There is discussion about "just" wars... 
whether or not a particular war is just. 

Members of certain religions are forbidden to participate 
in a war if it is considered to be unjust. 

Most scholars point to the 5th Century and St. Augustine of Hippo 
as the formulator of the 7-point "Just War Doctrine" 



The Ethics of War
Primer on the Just War Doctrine




Conscientious Objection


Conscientious Objection and Alternative Service
(Source: Selective Service System - May 30, 2002 revision)

A conscientious objector is one who is opposed to 
serving in the armed forces and / or bearing 
arms on the grounds of moral or religious 

In general, once a man gets a notice that he has been found qualified for military service, he has the opportunity to make a claim for classification as a conscientious objector (CO). A registrant making a claim for Conscientious Objection is required to appear before his local board to explain his beliefs.

He may provide written documentation or include personal appearances by people he knows who can attest to his claims. His written statement might explain: 

The local board will decide whether to grant or deny a CO classification based on the evidence a registrant has presented.

A man may appeal a Local Board's decision to a Selective Service District Appeal Board. If the Appeal Board also denies his claim, but the vote is not unanimous, he may further appeal the decision to the National Appeal Board.

Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man's lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.

Two types of service are available to conscientious objectors, and the type assigned is determined by the individual's specific beliefs. The person who is opposed to any form of military service will be assigned to Alternative Service - described below. The person whose beliefs allow him to serve in the military but in a noncombatant capacity will serve in the Armed Forces but will not be assigned training or duties that include using weapons.

Conscientious Objectors opposed to serving in the military will be placed in the Selective Service Alternative Service Program. This program attempts to match COs with local employers. Many types of jobs are available, however the job must be deemed to make a meaningful contribution to the maintenance of the national health, safety, and interest. Examples of Alternative Service are jobs in:

Length of service in the program will equal the amount of time a man would have served in the military, usually 24 months.

(Source: Selective Service System - May 30, 2002 revision)

"To delight in war is a merit in the soldier,
a dangerous quality in the captain, and
a positive crime in the statesman."



Excerpt from a memoir about the Vietnam War...
"When Heaven and Earth Changed Places --
 A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace"  
 by Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts

"A Song of Enlightenment"

A long time ago, in a fight for justice -- a fight over strong beliefs about right and wrong -- a proud boy chopped off another boy's arm with his family's sword. The victorious boy, believing the battle was over, gave thanks, sheathed his weapon, and went home.

The boy lived with his grandmother, who taught him to always be good and honorable; and with an orphan girl, whom the grandmother had raised to be an honorable wife for her grandson.

Not long after the fight, a call to battle reached their house. The king's messenger told them a great war was beginning that would test the power of good against evil. Understandably, the boy had two minds about responding. He believed in goodness and virtue, of course, and had proved it in his fight with the wrong-headed boy whom he had maimed. But he was soon to marry his fiancée, too, and was anxious to begin a family.

To resolve this dilemma, the boy consulted his wise old grandmother (who had taught him everything about the past), and his fiancée (who shared his dreams about the future), and asked them what to do. Because the grandmother loved virtue and justice about all things, she said the boy should go to war without hesitation. Because the girl loved the boy and also respected the grandmother's opinions, she too said the boy should go and promised to wait faithfully for him no matter how long the war should last.

So the boy went with the messenger and was gone a long time, during which he distinguished himself in many battles. When he returned, however, he found his home in shambles. The crops had failed, the animals had run away, and the house itself lay in disrepair. When he opened the door, he was greeted by his fiancée, who now looked as old as the grandmother he remembered.

"What happened?" he asked in astonishment. "Why has my home been ruined? Where is my grandmother? What's happened to you?"

"It was horrible," the fiancée said, falling weeping in his arms. "After you left, the boy whose arm you cut off came back and took revenge against us. He killed your grandmother and chopped her into pieces, then he raped me, pillaged our house, and burned our farm."

The boy-turned-soldier already had his ancestral sword half drawn in rage when he cried, "I will avenge this atrocity! Justice and virtue must prevail!"

On his way down the road, he stopped at his grandmother's grave and prayed for the strength and courage he would need to avenge her. While he was praying, his old enemy appeared. But instead of striking him from behind or calling him to combat, the enemy fell to his knees and begged the soldier to behead him for the wrong he had committed.

The soldier, believing his prayer for justice had been answered, drew his sword and prepared to strike, when a bell sounded in a nearby temple. The soldier paused as a song, born on the wind in a chorus of ghostly voices -- now his grandmother's, now the victims he and his ancestors had killed in war, now the voices of his own children yet-to-be-born -- filled the air around him:

Late afternoon--
Hear the bell--
The bell wakes up
My soul--

We must hurry to become
We must kneel beneath the tree of
We must look into the face of god and
Forget the past--

To forgive our brother is to forgive
We abandon our revenge;
Our lives have seen suffering enough.
We are tired and worn out with

If I take revenge, it will be the cause;
The effect will follow me into my next life.
Look into the mirror: see the compassion in your heart.

The soldier, having had his passion interrupted by the bell and his spirit awakened by the song, put away his sword and helped his enemy get up.

"Go your own way," the soldier said. "I took your arm, and that cannot be replaced; but I could have had your life, and this I have returned to you."

"Go your way in peace," the one-armed man replied. "I took your loved ones, it's true, and what's done cannot be undone; but I, too, have returned to you your life: for my brothers would have avenged me even though you had my head."

So the two men, no longer boys, parted and began new lives. To commemorate the breaking of the circle of vengeance, the temple bell now rings twice each day and reminds people to arrest their passions long enough to think; and having thought, to hear the song of enlightenment.

Order book



Veterans Against the Iraq War (VAIW)

Cost of the War in Iraq

Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors

American Friends Service Committee

For Peace


Vietnam Veterans Against the War

VIETNAM - An Antiwar Comic Book

Catholic Worker

Dewey Canyon III

Hippie Timeline

War Resisters League

Americans Against Bombing

Gone to Flowers, Every One

Federation of American Scientists

United Nations Office at Geneva

The Antiwar Movement We Are Supposed to Forget

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford

Disarmament Clearinghouse

MoJo Wire:
U.S. Arms Sales

Not in our Name

History of Conscientious Objection

International Action Center


Stop the War Coalition


The War Prayer by Mark Twain