1965 Twenty-five Years Ago

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As troop levels neared President Lyndon B. Johnson’s goal of 125,000, U.S. forces in Vietnam became involved in escalated conflicts. Daily bombing raids over North Vietnam began on September 16 as B-52s destroyed suspected Vietcong bases in the Mekong Delta.

Opposition to the U.S. presence in Vietnam crystallized as rallies took place in cities around the world the weekend of October 15. In Berkeley, California, the poet Allen Ginsberg led an estimated ten thousand marchers in an aborted attempt to reach the Oakland army base. The rally ended outside Berkeley as members of the motorcycle gang Hell’s Angels attacked Ginsberg and his “flower people.” In New York City another ten thousand protesters gathered, among them David J. Miller, a Catholic pacifist who burned his draft card in front of the cheering crowd. Three days later FBI agents arrested Miller for violating a law President Johnson had signed on August 31 making destruction or mutilation of a draft card a federal offense.

A chorus of denunciations answered the demonstrations. Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen said the marchers’ actions were “enough to make any person loyal to this country weep,” and Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach announced in an October 17 press conference that the Justice Department had begun an investigation of Communist influence on antiwar organizations. As President Johnson recuperated from gall bladder surgery, Press Secretary Bill Moyers defended the inquiry, expressing the President’s concern that “even well-meaning demonstrators can become the victims of Communist exploitation.”

Forty programs debuted on the three television networks as the new fall season began the week of September 12, among them the spy spoof “Get Smart!,” the World War II farce “Hogan’s Heroes,” and the culture-clash comedies “Green Acres” and “I Dream of Jeannie.” Three Southern stations refused to air NBC’s “I Spy” because the black comedian Bill Cosby had been given a costarring role.