Students walked out from public schools. There were sit-ins at draft boards and induction centers and workplace "sickouts." There were public meetings, vigils, candlelight processions and church services. There were massive gatherings in major cities. In Boston, more than 100,000 gathered peacefully on Boston Common that day.
From every walk of life, people participated in any way they could with one goal in mind -- ending the war in Vietnam and bringing our soldiers home.
The Nixon administration pretended not to notice the events of Oct. 15. But they couldn't ignore what happened a month later, on Nov. 15, 1969, when nearly a million people streamed into Washington to protest the war.
What happened in the fall of 1969 was the culmination of years of growing sentiment against U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Many historians credit these protests with preventing President Nixon from widening the war effort in Vietnam.
It's been nearly five years since the United States invaded Iraq. The war has been grinding on with no end in sight. There have been vigils and protests and other acts of dissent all over the country, but little has changed. But wars don't end overnight and, as Frederick Douglass once said, "power concedes nothing without a demand."
In the spirit of the original Vietnam Moratorium, today has been designated Iraq Moratorium Day. It is a day designated for locally organized opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It is the start of what the event's organizers hope will be a monthly event, on the third Friday of each month, until our troops leave Iraq. You can find more details about it at iraqmoratorium.org.
The organizers of the moratorium include many of the local antiwar groups that have been demonstrating against the war for the last five years. They are asking Americans who oppose the war to get creative and come up with ways to bridge the gap between the people who've been doing the protesting and the passive antiwar majority who haven't or won't participate in mass actions.
All they ask is that on the third Friday of every month, do something -- preferably with other people.
What do they suggest one do? Write letters. Make phone calls. Send e-mails. Talk with people outside your circle of friends about what the war has done to this country. Stand in front of a shopping center and read the names of the American soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed in the war. Organize an antiwar art contest. Make a YouTube video or write a new song against war. Show up at a busy intersection with a sign. Or, just wear a black ribbon or armband today. If someone asks you why, you can explain. It might just convince someone who hasn't thought much about the Iraq war to come around to the idea of ending the occupation.
Will any of these acts in and of themselves make a difference. No. But as Mahatma Gandhi once said, "everything you do will be insignificant, but you must do it anyway."
The only way we can end our occupation of Iraq, and prevent a possible attack on Iran, is massive and sustained public action. Every voice must be raised until the message -- stop the war now -- cannot be ignored any longer by our leaders.