April 1971: Operation VVAW Dewey Canyon III, 500,000 March in Protest in Washington D.C.

Over a period of four days, from 19 to 23 April 1971, US veterans from the Vietnam War marched in protest in Washington DC, an event dubbed Operation Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) Dewey Canyon III.

On the first day, led by the Gold Star Mothers (an organisation comprised of mothers who had lost sons in the war), more than 1,000 veterans marched across the Lincoln Memorial Bridge to the Arlington Cemetery gate, just beneath the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After leaving wreaths at the gate, the protest group continued to the Capitol and, defying a  Justice Department-ordered injunction, camped on the National Mall grounds.

Over the course of the next four days, protesters marched on the Pentagon in an attempt at surrendering themselves as war criminals, marched on the Supreme Court where John Kerry (future United States Secretary of State) testified against the war for two hours in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before a packed room, and held a candlelit march around the White House parading a US flag upside down in the international signal for distress. On the last day, 800 veterans individually tossed their medals, ribbons, discharge papers and other war mementoes on the steps of the US Capitol, rejecting the Vietnam War and the significance of those awards.

VVAW Dewey Canyon III published by Mark Santow.

A day after Operation VVAW Dewey Canyon III, on 24 April 1971, 500,000 civilians and veterans peacefully marched in protest in Washington DC. This was the largest public gathering in America against the conflict to date.

April 24th 1971 Peace March Against the War in Vietnam published by Jeff Kampf.

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