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Civilians at home based their opinions on a single biased perspective, often focusing on other facets of the war instead of what truly mattered: the soldiers.
In 1967, over 500,000 protesters took part in the march in New York, the biggest issue being not the size of the group but the methods they utilized.
Many turned to more violent protests as some even attempted to break into the Pentagon and fought against soldiers stationed there.
In the first half of the 1960s, peaceful protests consisted of “campus teach-ins” and organizations that educated activists on the Vietnam War and its many components.
These initial stages were not detrimental to the soldiers and represent one appropriate form of protest that focuses on the war instead of the soldiers.
However, the latter half of the decade brought an escalation in war protests, televised newscasts, and political interference.
A growth in protest brought a growth in size as well.In the media, veterans were portrayed as monsters, put at the same level as murderers and pedophiles.Movies and TV shows capitalized on the protests, creating villains out of the soldiers.They are not the figures voting for the “Christmas Bombing” or advocating for the usage of Agent Orange.The only decision these soldiers made was to serve their country, to fight in an unpopular war in order to preserve the American values of loyalty, freedom, and democracy.Although the anti-war movement rightfully challenged the conservative political climate of the time, the mass protests were executed poorly when considering the negative impact on the veterans.Initially, the protests were peaceful and filled with good intentions.Although the Vietnam generation failed to fulfill their roles as citizens, we can learn from their mistakes and apply it to the 21st century.On the other hand, there were positive veteran-civilian interactions that occurred during the Vietnam era.Their experiences were definitive in the years after, the impact striking far past the initial ripples in their life. It was a catalytic force in the soldiers’ livelihoods, and the anti-war movement failed to find the balance between protest and disrespect towards the sacrifices of the veterans.Through the aftermath of the Vietnam War, we can learn about the proper role of a civilian during a time of war.