Dan Embree, a West Point graduate, joined me and other Academy graduates to form a peace organization opposed to the genocide in Vietnam called Concerned Academy Graduates. He resembled Abe Lincoln, at six feet three, penetrating eyes, and chiseled chin. Twenty members founded the group that included Ed Fox, an Annapolis classmate, and Hastings’ law student. We held a press conferences voicing our opposition to the Vietnam debacle. Embree, studying for a PhD in English, gladly wrote position papers. We decided upon the wording on our petition to Congress to remove our troops from Vietnam.
At one of our meetings on the University of California Berkeley campus, a group of loud disrupters suddenly entered and shouted, “We’re the gay liberation army and demand to be heard!” They made so much noise we could not hold our own meeting. We had already decided on our purpose before the interference, so we disbanded. Long afterwards we learned that this incident appeared as one of many Republican Party dirty tricks in a Freedom of Information request filed by the ACLU.
As I drove home I saw a man with a sign in the back window of his truck where he had a rifle mounted with a peace sign that called it “Footprint of the American Chicken.” I zoomed up in front of him with my convertible containing “Vets for Peace,” a peace sign, and “Vietnam Vets Against the War” bumper stickers. He jumped out and confronted me. Face to face with an angry old man with gray hair, a white tee shirt with an American Flag, and faded jeans. He screamed, “I lost my son in Vietnam! You peacenik punks deserve to die.”
Thinking he might do something crazy I quickly said in a measured tone, “I am a Vietnam vet. I’m sorry you lost your son.”
Tears streamed from his face, “I want the protestors to know my son’s life was worth something.”
“Everyone’s life is precious, mister.”
He turned around and slowly walked back to his truck shaking his head. I knew he had a rifle and was distraught. Stunned by such emotion, I raced to my car, jumped in, and sped off leaving one of the endless confrontations Americans had about Vietnam. How ugly that could have been had he led with his weapon without hearing my words.