[May 02, 1962] A Good Lie (Letter Column #2)

[Our penpal is back, this time with a highly topical story…]

Dear Editor:

How nice that you’ve published my letter, with Barney’s picture!  Geez, I shouldn’t have sent my picture–just wanted you to know which one I was of all the people I’m sure you talked to.  Anyway, I thought of something I didn’t write about in my first letter to you.  (Thanks for sending some back issues of your publication.) I see that you are aware that there is something going on in Indochina that involves the US (March 31, 1961), but now, a year later, yes, it is clear that we as a nation are involved in war, but are just being sort of secretive about it. 

Last summer I participated in my first demonstration.  It was a “lie-in.”

I wouldn’t have gotten involved, but I heard through my boyfriend Leon that it was happening and he invited me.  He has been keeping me up to date on Indochina, and when I can listen to the radio (public radio) I know that he is right.  The US is this year pouring in “advisers” and maybe even regular troops.  The Christian Science Monitor is keeping tabs on what is going on over there, and it isn’t pretty.

So I decided to go demonstrate against sending US troops, with Leon, and we arrived after classes with blankets, his sleeping bag, and warm clothing (even summer nights can be cold here.) There weren’t many of us, and I didn’t know the others, but everybody was friendly.  There was plenty of room on the Administration lawn, even though it is small, for us all to lie down without getting into anyone else’s space.  I was surprised to see that someone had invented a new symbol.  They had painted it on cardboard and it occupied a place on the lawn close to the walkway for passersby, who were vocally invited to join us.

from David McReynolds

It’s an anti-war sign that consists of two semaphore signals, one for “N,” and one for “D,” standing for “Nuclear” and “Disarmament,” with a circle around them.  So “nuclear disarmament” is broadened to all weapons and war.  Funny looking sign, but I think you’ll see more of it.

I think Leon and I shared his sleeping bag, since the only blanket I had wasn’t adequate.  (Of course nothing could happen between us with everybody around us awake for much of the night.  It was too cold, anyway.) In the morning, we were covered with dew.

Thanks for your forum.  Please keep an ear or eye out for this Indochina War stuff.  I’m sure I’m missing something.


[The government won’t tell how many troops are in South Vietnam since the Geneva Accords that ended the French-Indochinese War restrict the US to 685 troops.  Estimates have the number at 6000, climbing to 9000 by the end of summer.  We are involved in what the papers describe as a “hot war.” 

This is bigger than Lebanon, could be as big as Korea before it’s over.]

4 thoughts on “[May 02, 1962] A Good Lie (Letter Column #2)”

  1. I’m not entirely sure what we’re doing in Indochina. I know it’s supposedly to contain the Russians, and I’m all for that, but is the region all that strategically important? Thailand, Burma, and Indonesia aren’t going to turn Communist. Actually, we’re just cleaning up the French’s mess after they got their colonial derrieres handed to them a few years ago. Not sure that’s really our lookout.

    The peace activists might want to rethink their fancy new symbol. Nero used something very like it to brand Christians (inverted, broken cross) and I believe there was a Nazi tank unit that used something similar as their insignia. With a history like that, it’ll never catch on.

    1. It might not strategically important to the US, but it is to the freedom-loving peoples of other nations. Do we want Soviet bases within easy reach of Australia?

  2. I tell you, Dad’s a mite suspicious of the whole thing too. He was in Korea and is thinking this South Vietnam stuff looks to be shaping up even worse. He’s almost got his 20 years in (currently in Colorado Springs, home of Heinlein!) and says he’ll retire before going there. I’d bet no matter who looks to win the ’64 election, he’ll be out by then.

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