Today in Boston by Ethan Underhill: 4/22/1971 — The Testimony 🎙

Over 1,000 protesters had gathered outside and over 100 Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) had packed into the Senate Chamber for the Foreign Relations Committee’s latest set of Fulbright Hearings.

Out of that crowd marched a 27-year-old honorably discharged Naval lieutenant, subtly sporting 4 rows of military ribbons. A Yale graduate who’d been raised to appreciate the responsibility that came with his family’s means, he had volunteered for Vietnam, but now he’d come to Washington to tell the world: America had to stop it.

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?” he demanded with calm intensity, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

With that, John Kerry today in 1971 threaded a needle that few others could seem to through 2 decades of American presence in Vietnam.

He was a badged Brahmin; a patriot for peace; an aristocrat advocating not only for the end of a war that had never made much sense to many, but also for the enormous personal sacrifice this conflict had costs its fighters and their families.

This was not the righteous war, Kerry contended, that those in power had portrayed. It was “a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence” by an America that had asked its boys “to die for the biggest nothing in history.”

Kerry had come to Congress because “this body can be responsive to the will of the people, and… the will of the people says that we should be out of Vietnam now.”

Another 2 years would go by before the United States finally withdrew from South Vietnam, but Kerry had become a champion of the cause and, subsequently, a bit of a national celebrity.

After graduating from @BostonCollege Law School, John Kerry would go on to serve as an Assistant District Attorney of Middlesex County, the Commonwealth’s Lieutenant Governor and then its Senator, and ultimately, the 68th Secretary of State.

Be brave and speak your mind today, kid.

Be the first to comment