Saturday, August 22, 2015


 The political climate today is much different than the late 1960's to early 1970's.  Today, the issues include immigration, the economy, education, jobs, and global terrorism.  Back then, there were basically two important issues--civil rights and the Vietnam War.
 In 1969, I became aware of the Vietnam War and why we needed to get out of there.  Nixon was the president.  By 1972, I had become a part of the anti-war movement.  I formed an organization called The Walter Durst Society for Human Rights, which became The United Society.  I also joined two groups--The Individuals Against the Crime of Silence and The National Peace Action Coalition.  NPAC organized a lot of rallies and marches.  I got a lot of pinback buttons from them, as well as posters and pamphlets.  I became their representative on the Anderson College campus.  I didn't participate in any marches, but I did write articles for the newspaper, and display the posters around campus.  AC was a very conservative school, so I didn't have a lot of help in this cause.  I also became the head of the McGovern for President campaign at school.  I met Joe Biden years later, and he said that the McGovern campaign was his first job in politics.  I told him it was mine too, and he grinned and said that it was "a very lonely job".  We laughed over it, but the fact was, at the time, we were both dead serious.
 As soon as I would put an anti-war poster up, someone would rip it down or write rude messages on it.  There was no freedom of speech.  One guy in particular was a National Guardsman.  He actually threatened physical harm toward me.  A poll was taken of the students, and 98% went for Nixon.  I was definitely in the minority. 
 My anti-war activities also included some things related to slowing down the war effort.  I got about 200 cards from the Pentagon to get folks to express an interest in volunteering for work as nurses in the military.  I filled out those cards with phony names and addresses, so it would take people at the Pentagon to write these fake people and get the letters back undeliverable, thus slowing down their work. 
 During this time, I also was involved in ecology.  There was a stream that flowed through a park in downtown Anderson.  The stream was heavily polluted from a run-off that came from a nearby road and a tire store.  Dogs played in the stream along with children.  I wrote the mayor about cleaning up the stream, but he said no. 
 I wore an Army shirt that I got from the Army/Navy store.  The law said that you could wear a shirt like that, as long as it didn't have a name on the shirt other than yours.  Mine had "Jackson" on it, and I wore it proudly, until it fell apart.  I never washed it.
 One result of my activities was that I started to have an FBI agent follow me around.  They kept tabs on me.  As I said before, it was a different time.  Years later, I applied for and got a federal job.  It involved some very secure documents.  I had been there 9 months, when one day my supervisor asked if there had been a background check run on me.  I told him no, so they did one.  The next week, I was let go with no explanation.  I wrote to the FBI to request my file.  I got two pages from them with my name at the top, and the two pages were blackened out, with a notice at the bottom "by reason of national security".  I applied for another federal job and was denied.  I asked them if it was because of my anti-war activity, and they said yes.  I asked them what if I renounced everything I stood for during that time.  They said that it would be a good thing to do, but I could be blackmailed with my past.  They weren't kidding.
 In 1974, I took a Sociology class and wanted to do a slide presentation on the movement.  I took pictures of the posters and buttons, but I wanted more, so I went to Fort Jackson to take pictures of tanks and soldiers.  As I was doing so, two MP's drove up in a jeep to ask me what I was doing.  I told them, and they said I couldn't do it, and I had to leave.  I drove to another part of the base and started taking more pictures.  The same two MP's showed up again, this time with guns drawn.  They wanted the film in my camera, which I gave to them, although I had some already used in my car, which I didn't give them.  They escorted me off of the base.  I got an A for my project.
 There were two people I truly hated during that time.  One was the guy who stole my love away.  The other was Richard Nixon.
 Many years later, I was at a White Elephant Party at church.  One of the items brought was an oil painting of Nixon.  I got it, but someone traded for it, and I lost it.  I found Nixon's address and wrote to him, telling him the painting had been stolen from me.  He sent me an autographed picture.  I sold it for $100.

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