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March 30, 2013

Impossible to forget

(Continued)

NORMAN —

“There wasn’t any truth about Vietnam — from the very beginning,” said Sinclair by phone from New Orleans, where he spends time when he isn’t in Detroit or his home base of Amsterdam.

“In those times we considered ourselves revolutionaries,” said Sinclair, a co-founder of the White Panther Party who is a poet and performance artist and runs an Amsterdam-based online radio station. “We wanted equal distribution of wealth. We didn’t want 1 percent of the rich running everything. Of course, we lost.”

The Vietnam War also shaped the life of retired Vermont businessman John Snell, 64, by helping to instill a lifetime commitment to anti-war activism. He is now a regular at a weekly anti-war protest in front of the Montpelier federal building that has been going on since long before the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Haslett, Mich., native graduated from high school in 1966 and later received conscientious objector status. He never had to do the required alternative service because a foot deformity led him to being listed as unfit to serve.

“They were pretty formative times in our lives and we saw incredible damage being done, it was the first war to really show up on television. I remember looking in the newspaper and seeing the names of people I went to school with as being dead and injured every single week,” said Snell, who attended Michigan State University before moving to Vermont in 1977.

“Things were crazy. I remember sitting down in the student lounge watching the numbers being drawn on TV, there were probably 200 people sitting in this lounge watching as numbers came up, the guys were quite depressed by the numbers that were being drawn,” he said. “There certainly were people who volunteered and went with some patriotic fervor, but by ‘67 or’68 there were a lot of people who just didn’t want to have anything to do with it.”

———

Dishneau reported from Hagerstown, Md., and Reeves reported from Birmingham, Ala. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Chris Brummitt in Hanoi, Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok, Gillian Flaccus in Tustin, Calif., Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati, Kevin Freking in Washington, Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt., Susanne M. Schafer in Columbia, S.C., and Jeff Karoub in Detroit.

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