Vietnam comes to Washington Favorite 


Jun 15 1971


Washington D.C.

It’s the summer of 1971 and tourists flock around one of Washington DC’s most famous hotspots – the Capitol steps. Journalist Art Goldberg recalls ‘a squad of soldiers moving through the space. They are grubby-looking troopers, clad in jungle fatigues. Jumping a low fence, they begin shouting at a group of tourists. “All right! Hold it! Hold it! Nobody move. Nobody move!” Their voices full of tension and anger. A man runs from the crowd. Several soldiers fire, and the man falls, clutching his stomach. Blood can be seen. The tourists turn away in horror. “Get a body count,” a soldier yells. Suddenly, another squad of soldiers emerge. “All right! ID! ID!” they screech. They quickly grab a young woman and lead her away, binding her wrists and prodding her with rifles. The soldiers leave and more men in khaki fatigues pass out leaflets to the astonished tourists. “A US Infantry platoon just passed through here!” the pink paper reads. “If you had been Vietnamese ... we might have burned your house. We might have shot your dog. We might have shot you … HELP US END THE WAR BEFORE THEY TURN YOUR SON INTO A BUTCHER OR A CORPSE.”’ The anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War was behind the intervention: the art of guerrilla theatre had arrived.

See also Napalming a dog?!. And see Operation First Casualty", a reprise about the Iraq War, from which the photo was taken (there probably weren't any of the 1971 action).

Posted by Andy Bichlbaum on

Staff rating: 

It's impossible to know how much each of the acts of protest, civil disobedience, military non-cooperation, etc. contributed to ending the Vietnam War—but cumulatively it succeeded.

Featured in these Galleries