- 69 business
- In Memoriam
- The Ds of Old
Photos and comment from Walt Svesko
First, I'd like to tell you (as so many others have, I'm sure) what a wonderful experience the reunion was. You and everyone else who put this together truly deserve endless thanks and kudos. Secondly, I'd like to make a few comments re. the Parkhurst theme and, thirdly, include a few photos I took. So... regarding Parkhurst:
I regret to say that I did not see the re-enactment, not because I didn't want to but because I thought it was later in the day ("Late again for class, eh, Svesko?"). So I can't really say anything about it other than I think it was a good idea to have it. Funny thing, later that day I went to New Hamp, where I lived as a freshman and the young woman at the desk, when she saw my name tag, asked if I was "the" Vladimir in the re enactment and I told her I guess I was; she seemed truly thunderstruck and in awe of seeing the real person. I think she had participated in the re enactment and was moved by meeting me. Aside from the few moments of feeling like a star, what struck me was that what we did some fifty years ago still had palpable resonance with this current generation and I think that is pretty cool. Hopefully, this generation will have the same fortitude and awareness to oppose future disasters, such as a possible war with Iran which we appear to be hurtling towards.
But getting back to the actual topic: I was involved in the Parkhurst takeover, went to a few of the meetings where SDS people from Columbia were, got arrested and spent some time in jail, was a defendant in the trial of the Parkhurst 56. I also had a number of friends who were in ROTC and who went to Vietnam. Neither I nor anyone I knew ever put down the guys that went to Vietnam (much less spat on them!). Everyone made their own decisions then. I was just really happy to find out that the friends of mine that went to Vietnam (Roy Hitchens, Rod Smith, Dan Szakonyi, and others) came back alive. The Parkhurst thing was not about them. It was a way of expressing our disgust and our anger at the war. We may have been a bunch of elitist young men but we were also among the smarter individuals of our generation and we all knew that Vietnam was a huge clusterfuck (years later, documents from MacNamara, Kisisinger, etc. would bear out the fact that the Washington powers knew that the war was lost by the late '60's).
I remember the meetings with the Columbia SDS people and what struck me was that they were chomping at the bit to do the takeover but they themselves did not plan to participate in the actual takeover. That didn't seem right to me. I'm also not sure how many of us realized what the consequences would be but that, in a way, makes me respect my fellow classmates even more because they did it anyway. Aside from a small number of outside organizers, most everyone else was from Dartmouth, as I recall, including Lynn Lobban, who was in the midst of her year of study in Hanover and who was one of the moderators of the re-enactment, I believe. The trial itself was rather strange, as we were represented by a well known radical lawyer from New York who made no attempt to defend us but rather had us all plead guilty, which I think served his purposes of of presenting us as sacrificial lambs in the great Vietnam debate but didn't exactly help our individual situations.
The truth is always more complex than it initially appears. Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys in this morality play? The state troopers? The pro war students? The anti war students? The SDS boys from Columbia? Dean Seymour? I think we were all caught up in this historical moment and few, if any, really understood what was going on. The only bad guys, to my mind, were the Washington players like KIssinger, MacNamara, Kennedy, Nixon, etc. who used everyone else for their own political ambitions.
I'll end my diatribe here. Again, thank you and all the boys so much for putting the reunion together. It was really wonderful. Attached are a few shots of Occom Pond and a view from Moosilauke without the clouds.
Peace, Vlad "Walt" Svesko