ethel’s words

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SPEECH IN THE SIXTIES

During one protest against our slaughter in Viet Nam we stood together in one massive mix of anger, sorrow, and camaraderie at the portal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Headquarters (then) at 47 East South Temple Street. In front of us--thousands of us--stood the president of the United States, Richard Nixon, and the president of The Mormon Church.

We chanted to them: “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your fucking war.” (Children were being napalmed.)

The Secret Service men were identified by their ID of that day--a bright evergreen tree lapel pin--probably primarily to identify them to the various local police--they no doubt knew each other. They moved among us, alert, efficient, composed. They were there to protect the President, to prevent violence, and in preventing violence, they protected the peaceful protestors from the belligerent and aggressive pro-war harassers and provocateurs.

One barrel-chested pugnacious-looking man jerked my sign out of my hands. I did not resist--I let it go. In less that a minute--maybe less than thirty seconds--a Secret Service man was there to separate the harasser from me. He did that through that packed crowd. There must be a taught skill.

While we chanted, we stayed motionless. Only our voices--and our language--expressed anger. I doubt that we analyzed our actions, but clearly, it could be called “hoped-for intimidation”. That is so amusing, when we stood against the government of the nation that fairly bristled with all manner of arms, from simple bullets to The Bomb.

Whatever administration may occupy the seats of power in D.C., they do not want “the people” to believe that demonstrations and protests have any influence on them. They would like the innocents to think the government just thought The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a nice guy whom they would placate.

Ethel C. Hale