Burning Draft Cards (November 19, 1965)


“Seldom does there occur a liturgical ceremony more impressive than the draft-card burning which took place in Manhattan’s Union Square November 6. Through the opening poems chanted by the only bearded speaker of the day, through the homilies delivered by A. J. Muste and Dorothy Day, through the ritual destruction of the cards, through the closing hymn—’We shall overcome’—there ran a quality so frequently missing in the sacred acts of the Church. Here was an act with consequences; not another manifesto, but a commitment backed by the willingness to risk five years of personal freedom. Impressive, too, was the audience—dare we say congregation? The 1500 people present in support of the card burners were not merely restrained, they were reverent. The formal, serious nature of the event was dear; and applause, not cheering, was the crowd’s sign of approval. Hecklers here and there who greeted each participant with shouts of ‘Red stooge’ and ‘traitor’ were simply requested to ‘please, keep silent’ by young men and women wearing tags saying ‘Practice Nonviolence.’ The chairman invited the hecklers to choose a spokesman to present opposing views; and when the spokesman took the microphone to charge that this was ‘obviously a Communist-inspired meeting,’ only a few boos, some laughter, and much silence resulted. Even this gentleman’s wild assertions were submerged in a mood not of militancy but of compassion for all entangled in the mess in Vietnam—American soldiers and their families as well as Vietnamese women and children. Compassion did not trouble a contingent of counter-demonstrators. From across the street and behind police lines, they carried signs with messages like ‘Burn Yourself Instead of Your Card” and tried to drown out the speakers with chants of ‘Drop dead, Red.’ Was it from hardness of head, heart, or hearing—or simply from habit—that they even booed their own spokesman? Following the ceremony, and ignored by police and unobserved (or unreported) by most of the press, they marched through the neighboring streets. Up Madison to 18th and over to 5th—where they set upon two young men wearing ‘Practice Nonviolence’ tags, and began beating them. …”
Commonweal Magazine
W – Draft-card burning
TIME: This Photo Shows the Vietnam Draft-Card Burning That Started a Movement
W – David McReynolds, W – A. J. Muste, W – Dorothy Day, W – David Dellinger, W – Tom_Cornell, etc.
PBS: The Draft | Up in Flames: Draft Card Burning in NYC (Video)


16 Oct 1965 — David Miller, Pacifist; burns draft card.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Draft board, Pacifist, Peace talks, Religion, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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