Remembering ~ Vietnam Veterans Arrested on Lexington Green ~ May 30, 1971

Today Mass Moments brings us a history-making event from 1971… it took place on the iconic Lexington Green. It highlights a past that flows into the present… protests of war and foreign involvement persist today. The fall-out of war – treatment of our veterans – was a post-Vietnam issue and it is a issue of controversy today.  Moreover, in an irony of history, a Vietnam vet from Massachusetts who became our US Senator, the Democratic nominee for President and now serves as the Secretary of State charged with implementing our foreign policy,  protested  that war, the US foreign policy that guided it and challenged it openly at a Congressional hearing.

John Kerry, a director of the Vietnam Veterans against the War, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations committee April 22, 1971. (UPI)

From our blog achive ~ MassMoments reminds us this morning that on this day May 30, 1971, hundreds of anti-war protestors  – in an operation organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War – occupied Lexington Green. Viet Nam veteran John Kerry had emerged as a leader of the VVAW. Earlier that spring, the future Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate testified at a nationally televised Congressional hearing. Arguing that the war was wrong, he posed the now famous question, “How can you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” His appearance was a catalyst for this Paul Revere-like march and protest when they would “alarm the countryside”— sounding a message that the war was unjust and must end.

 On this day…

…in 1971, over 450 anti-war protesters occupied the historic Lexington Green and refused to leave. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War had organized a three-day march from Concord to Boston — Paul Revere’s route in reverse. According to Lexington’s by-laws, no one was allowed on the Green after 10 PM, so the selectmen denied the protesters permission to camp there. With many townspeople supporting the veterans, an emergency town meeting was held. When no agreement was reached, the veterans and their Lexington supporters decided to remain on the Green. At 3 AM on Sunday, they were all arrested in the largest mass arrest in Massachusetts history. After being tried, convicted, and fined $5.00 each, they continued their march to Boston.

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