|All Sources > The Manitou Messenger (DA-MM) > The Manitou Messenger (1916-2014) > 1969 > No. 20, Vol. 82|
The Largest March
Washington, CPS — Despite advance government prodictions of widespread violence, and the last minute cancellation of busses from some cities, the Capital experienced the largest protest rally in the nation's history, November 15.
It was impossible to determine exactly how big the massive crowd that gathered at the Washington Monument to protest the Vietnam war was. Police Chief Jerry Wilson termed his department's estimate of a quarter of a million people as "modest." He added that it is impossible to tell the size of a crowd larger than 250,000. There are few precedents to judge by.
The New Mobilization refuses to estimate the crowd. But private estimates have ranged as high as two million participants, with various media reporting "more than half a million" and "800,000 participants."
In any case, it was by far the largest protest this country has ever witnessed. Just two years ago, the first Mobe march had slightly fewer than 100,000 participants. The previous record — the Washington civil rights rally of 1965 — saw about 210,000 persons. And while hundreds of thousands marched on Washington this November 15, another hundred thousand marched in San Francisco. That march and rally was also labeled the largest in the city's history.
Not everyone who wanted to could participate in the march up Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Capitol to Washington Monument. There just wasn't room in the streets to hold them. After waiting for hours to march, thousands of people walked from the mall to the monument only to find that they could not get within sight of the rally stage.
As Dr. Timothy Leary put it when looking at the crowd stretching to the horizon, "One Woodstock, two Woodstocks, three Woodstocks — out of sight."
Persons of every age and political persuasion participated. Viet Cong flags flew next to American flags. Mothers with children in their arms cried alongside yippies.
But the collection of signs, slogans, and buttons showed that they shared a common goal. They were all for immediate withdrawal from Vietnam; not President Nixon's "honorable" peace, but peace now.
Short poster: "This is my country" over a peace symbol on a globe. Sign: "Saturday will never be the same." Bumper sticker: "Vietnam: love it or leave it."
President Nixon reportedly watched a football game during much of the rally.