Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The War In Vietnam.

It was the overriding national political issue all four years we attended Vanderbilt.

While student opposition to the conflict (and especially the military draft) was much stronger at other universities as compared to Vanderbilt, by the time we arrived at school, there were organized efforts to mobilize public opposition to the war.

That included on October 15, 1969, participation in a national "moratorium" day against the conflict. What do you remember about that day? Bill Carey in his book on the history of Vanderbilt, CHANCELLORS, COMMODORES & COEDS" says: "As part of the event many students skip class, go special talks on the war, and hand out anti-war leaflets in Nashville neighborhoods."

Does that ring a bell or bring back any memories? If so, please leave your thoughts below by clicking on the comments link.

Now I can sure believe the part about students skipping class (sure we were just freshmen, but did we ever really need an excuse not to go to class if we could find one)? But what going to special talks about the war or handing out anti-war literature off campus?

What I do remember is WRVU had just gotten its United Press International wire machine back in service.

With that news teletype and the audio line we had from ABC Radio News, we could track what was going on all over the country that day. That was really neat, and a bit unusual in those times before instant and constant communications through cable news, the Internet, blogging, text messaging and cell phones.

Courtesy of the Vanderbilt TV News Archives, here's how Walter Cronkite and the CBS EVENING NEWS reported on the Moratorium that evening of October 15, 1969.....

There was another Moratorium attempted the very next month on November 15. But I don't remember it generating nearly the interest or news coverage of the first one.

However there is a hit song from that era (we played it all the time at WRVU my freshman year), that whenever I hear it reminds me of those turbulent days: "FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH" by the Buffalo Springfield:

Coming up next: May, 1970: President Nixon Invades Cambodia, then asks Chancellor Heard for help.

No comments: