In my last post, I tried to give a sense of what the protest was really like, violent for the most part. Somewhere in the 683 arrests, 51 jail terms sentenced, $8,000 in fines, and an untold amount of injuries, some peaceful movements were made. It seems to me that if move of the protestors would have done as Jan Rose Kasmir did, the protest would have been much more powerful.
Even Robert McNamara, who was looking out at the protestors through his office at the Pentagon, said the protestors were doing it all wrong. Years later, McNamara gave this statement, “They did it all wrong. They way to have done it would to have been Gandhi like. Had they retained their discipline, they could have achieved their ends.” I agree with McNamara and I could see Jan Rose agreeing as well.
If 100,000 people showed up with flowers peacefully asking soldiers to join them to help end the war, the outcome could have been much better. Jan Rose wanted peace, she wanted to help end the war. Most of these people protesting fought violence with more violence. It is astonishing to me that through all the violence Marc was able to capture this beautiful moment. The picture itself means so much more after researching into the protest.
The protest was a powerful one. After a long day of listening to protestors, a soldier reportedly dropped his rifle, removed his helmet, and walked towards the protestors to join them. Of course this soldier was arrested on the spot for switching sides, but it meant the protest was working! This soldier could have been a soldier that was influenced by Jan Rose or a protestor choosing to act as she did, more than likely not because of the overwhelming violence, but there is still a chance. We like to hope that small things like that can make the biggest difference of all.
The War Within: America’s Battle over Vietnam