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About Peggy Hanna

Peggy Hanna, a Chicago native, became active politically after moving to Ohio in 1965. She was the co-chair of Springfield People for Peace and elected a McGovern delegate to the 1972 Democrat National Convention.

To read more about Peggy Hanna, click here.

History Teaching Guide

Reaction Paper and Discussion Questions

This assignment is primarily a reaction paper – a chance for you to voice your opinion about the book.  To do this, you need to select four items (a statement, an event, an opinion, etc.), and react to each of those items.  Do you agree, and why?  Do you disagree, and why?  What would you have done in that situation, and why?  Does this description fit with your previous understanding of the event, and why or why not?

In addition to your discussion of these four items, please include answers to the following questions:

1.         “One young demonstrator commented to a few of us as we marched, ‘Man, all the other marches I’ve been to, we just had the freaks.  Here you have the middle age, middle class.’  We all laughed at his choice of words, but indeed were proud of who we were.”  (Page 39)  Do you think the fact that this was who these demonstrators were – middle age and middle class – made their protest more or less effective?  Why?

2.         “But meeting Vietnamese people face to face and talking with them about the suffering in Vietnam, made what seemed an intellectual or moral or political problem, a reality that ached deep inside us.”  (Page 70)  If more Americans had been able to meet with Vietnamese citizens, do you think it would have forced an end to the war sooner?  Why or why not?

Questions for Discussion of Patriotism, Peace and Vietnam

Page 32 – “Patriotism means love of one’s country.  To love your country does not mean blindly accepting and supporting its policies.  We, the people, have the right and duty to help form the policies our country adopts.”
Do you agree or disagree?  Why?  What part of the statement makes you decide one way or the other?  Do you think the majority of Americans would agree or disagree?  Why?

Page 34 – “We who were involved in the antiwar movement were exercising the very freedoms so many service men and women have fought and died for.  I couldn’t understand how things got so twisted that those of us who took so seriously our duties as citizens and valued so highly our freedom to express ourselves could be seen as unpatriotic.”
Do you agree or disagree with the first part of the statement?  Why?  How would you explain to the author how or why “things got so twisted?”

Page 38 – “Once our son, Kevin, who was about six at the time, said to me, ‘If the people next door to us are our neighbors and the people next to them are their neighbors and it goes on like that forever, then it means everybody is everybody’s neighbor.’  Then he looked at me and asked, ‘Why would people kill their neighbors?’”
What is your gut reaction to this statement?  Does this argument make sense to you?  Why or why not?

Page 40 – “The stereotyping of peace activists through the media – and through the military – caused undue pain to our servicemen and –women who believed we opposed them, and still do for the most part even today.  We didn’t.  We supported them.  We opposed our government’s policies, not them!  But they never know the difference.  How could they?  They were fed horror stories of the antiwar movement while dug into trenches or crawling through jungles.  I would have felt the same way.  Maybe I am naïve still, but I believe if our guys in the trenches had known people like us all over the country cared about them enough to turn our lives upside down to get them home, they would have felt some comfort.  At least maybe they wouldn’t hate us so.”  Can you support the individuals without supporting what they are being sent to do?  Why or why not?  Do you agree with the author’s statement about giving comfort to the individuals serving?  Why or why not?

Page 43 – “In the Springfield area, 53 percent of the residents responding admitted they failed to listen to the nationally broadcast address on the increasing military action in Southeast Asia.  One of the reasons cited was, ‘I don’t pay any attention to politics or things like that.’  They chose to be blind to our national tragedy.”
Have you or a friend ever said anything like that?  How do you respond to that kind of statement?

Page 44 – “‘It’s because of people like you that my son could have been killed!’ she screamed at me.  The only trigger for her outburst, I believe, was seeing me and knowing I was a peacenik – as though my being in the peace movement made me responsible for the situation at Kent State.”
Do you think this woman’s accusation was valid?  Why or why not?
Page 58 – “Smilin’ Bob baited me, ‘You sound like a nice young woman.  Now why on earth would you leave your husband and children – was that five of them! – to go traipsing to Paris?  For what?  Talk to the Vietcong?  Consort with the enemy?’…Every morning after that memorable interview, a firestorm of controversy raged over the air, not over the war, but over two women leaving their families for ten days.  All that precious radio time focused on the role of mothers rather than on the war.  Most callers thought we were very selfish.”
What is your gut reaction to Smilin’ Bob and how he changed the focus of the story?  Would this kind of reaction happen today in a similar situation?  Why or why not?  What does this incident tell us about the author and what she had to face?

Page 63 – “Minister Xuan Thuy, leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) delegation, invited us to take pictures and use our tape recorders.  He was often on the evening news, and I was certainly full of awe for participating in a piece of history.  Not that we were making history, but we were meeting people who were.”
What do you think?  Was the author making history?

Page 65 – “‘Your bombs have destroyed the cradles of our children and the graves of our ancestors,’ she said to a room of absolute quiet.  ‘One-half ton of high explosive bombs have fallen on us for each man, woman, and child…’  She smiled when she told about some GIs who saw written on a wall in some village, ‘Americans Go Home.’  Underneath the soldiers added, ‘As soon as possible.’  Her lighthearted remark helped salve my raw emotions and battered conscience.”                                                                                                                                      What would you have felt if this woman was telling this story to you?  Would her “lighthearted remark” have helped you?  Why or why not?

Page 81 – “And for us, we took pride in our experience and pride in Springfield People for Peace, pushing our message for peace.  However, we knew it wasn’t enough, that it would never be enough.”
Do you think they could have done more?  What?

Page 83 – “Ruth wrote in a letter to the editor in the Springfield paper, ‘It is a strange world indeed where antiwar sentiments are unpatriotic and intolerable.  Is it not possible to honor the men who died unselfishly and yet to hate the war they died in?’”
What do you think – is it possible?  Why or why not?

Page 92 – “Dorothy pointed out the irony of all this.  Their minister, who was such a hawk during Vietnam, had been a conscientious objector during World War II.  Even harder to swallow, he encouraged his own son to go into the ministry so he wouldn’t be drafted.  Dorothy and Arthur’s son served as a combat fighter in Vietnam, and they were being accused of unpatriotic sentiment by their fellow Christians.  They never joined another church.”
What is your reaction to this?

Page 107 – “Over the years and in different ways, some more than others, peace people paid a price for standing up against the war.  We paid in fractured relationships.  All of us in the peace movement have stories of upset families, co-workers, friends, and neighbors.  Ruth’s family simply dismissed her and never talked about it although she wanted and needed to talk about it, as we all did.  Karen’s father, a vocal hawk, angrily accused her of being a communist dupe.  The war became a forbidden subject, even with her sisters and mother.  My family, even though many of them opposed the war, treated me like nothing had ever happened with a major part of my life.  Nothing said, nothing asked.  For years, my older brother didn’t speak to me.  Like the nurse whose son was at Kent State, he, too, said my kids would someday blow up buildings.”
Given this statement and the impact (or lack of impact) the author’s actions had, do you think her sacrifice was worth it?

Final question:   Do you think people today see the peace movement as unpatriotic?  Why or why not?