I have decided to focus my paper on the youthful frustration towards the draft. Many protests took place due to the anger that the young people felt on the topic of the Vietnam War and the draft. According to Learn NC, “by 1966, students were burning draft cards, and organized protests drew tens of thousands of people.” American people realized that Vietnam was going to be a harder battle to win. As more and more lives were lost over a cause most people didn’t even understand, opposition grew. As opposition to the war grew, so did the protests.
The newsreel footage seen above is from 1967. In the footage, we see “a march on the Pentagon by protesters demonstrating against the Vietnam War. According to the film, about 50,000 people participated.” The narrator in the film describes the protest to be mostly orderly, with a few minor exceptions. A few breakouts occurred and the two-day protest resulted in about 600 arrests. Two soldiers were even injured and tear gas was used to fight the crowd when the breakouts did occur.
The footage has some background music to it as well. The music is upbeat to make viewers feel less threatened by the actual event. The narrator sounds loud as well as proud to be an American. Even though the issue is serious and the opposition to Vietnam is made very real in this video, the narrator tries to make viewers feel otherwise. The goal is to reassure the public that the protests are not getting out of hand and that the government has everything under control. In all reality, the footage shows violence and anger. Resistance towards the war was actually growing and becoming a larger issue with each protest.
Learn NC states that once “President Nixon announced that the U.S. would begin targeting supply lines and bases in Cambodia, college campuses exploded in protest.” The young people attending college were outraged. Some students were divided from their peers on the issue, but most people believed that “the United States had no business interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.” People took these beliefs very seriously and made sure their protests were very clear on what they wanted: the draft to be abolished, and more importantly, the end of US involvement in Vietnam.
In the song “Eve of Destruction”, has many broad topics of the mid 1960s that are mentioned within the lyrics. It talks about young soldiers being sent to war at an age where they cannot even vote, nuclear threats, protests, and many more. So many issues can be related to the song, but tying “Eve” to the protests about the draft is important because of how large the issue became. The title says it all because destruction occurred during the protests. People fought to express their ideas on the draft and Vietnam. The United States attempted to overthrow protests and continue to have faith in their involvement in Vietnam. In reality, their plans to win Vietnam became harder and harder to accomplish. Like Barry McGuire sings, “and you tell me/ over and over and over again my friend/ ah, you don’t believe/ we’re on the eve of destruction.” This line relates to the U.S. because they tried to doubt the damage that was being done in Vietnam.
The anti-war demonstrations had a large impact on the United States because the people seemed to be divided on the issue when the country needed to stay strong as one large unit. As the president continued to fight communism in Vietnam, protests at home created a strain within the country.