Saturday morning I got off the DC Metro train at the Archives Station and walked the few blocks down 7th Street to the National Gallery of Art. Noting that I was early for the designated time for my art history class, I walked around to the Mall entrance, just as a change from the closer side and back entrances I usually use. As soon as I reached the steps, I had a strong memory flash to a November day much like this one but many years ago. This is where we gathered for the March on Washington to protest the Viet Nam War in 1969.
The weather was remarkably similar that day, sunny with a bright blue sky and air temperatures in the 60's. I remember being comfortable in the light wool shirt jacket I wore that day and still own, I believe. I also remember the small 35mm camera I used to photograph the event but have no idea what happened to the slides.
The actual March I have little specific memories of. We proceeded, I believe, to the Washington Monument grounds, 500,000 strong, to listen to speakers and music. Crowds sometimes bring about a sense of claustrophobia in me, so I tend to skirt the edges rather than immerse myself in the middle. I'm like that now, and I was that was then. Staying on the move gave me more photo opportunities, and although the pictures are gone some of the images remain in my head.
When those memories came rushing back to me Saturday, I wondered if the date was the actual anniversary of the March. Later I checked and it was close because the anniversary was November 15th which was Tuesday. It was the largest of Viet Nam protests, but the war dragged on for, how many years? Three? Four? Five? How many more deaths? In the thousands, certainly. I sometimes wonder if we did any good.