I had left home a few days prior.
It was cold and snowing on the last day I ever saw my parents and brother. I didn’t really plan on never seeing them again but the chasm which had grown between us by that point was broader than the Grand Canyon.
Each time I had gone to NY City and spent time in Greenwich Village had made my living in a small town in the Adirondacks less and less possible.
So I got a back pack and filled it with a few clothes, a notebook of my writings, a couple of song books, took my guitar and the money I had saved for my escape and headed west.
I stopped at Cortland State to see a few of the people I knew from SDS and decided to go with them to the big anti-war demonstration in Washington DC.
It wasn’t going to be a simple mass gathering to listen to speeches like the demonstrations in the past.
Those hadn’t worked. The ante was being upped. Already some of us were sporting pro National Liberation Front/pro Vietcong buttons.
During the week prior to the Pentagon Demonstration the anti-war movement in Berkeley had shut down the Oakland Induction Center, engaging in hit and run tactics around the Center that led to the Oakland PD and Alameda County Sheriff’s shutting down traffic to the Center.
The Pentagon marked a shift from passive protests that made our displeasure known regarding the war to actively resisting the war.
That Saturday morning we stood near the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln memorial as we listened to the passionate speeches that seemed so empty we gathered with other SDS contingents from across the country.
We were of one mind and were going to cross the bridge and march on the Pentagon. While there were an estimated half million people at the rally only a minority of us were committed to occupying the Pentagon and engaging in active but non-violent confrontation with those guarding the Pentagon and its grounds.
We were frightened, word was they had recruited police from the South who loved beating protesters, especially dirtycommiehippieJew protesters from New York City and elsewhere almost as much as they liked beating black civil rights protesters.
When we reached the Pentagon we found a fence. Those at the front of the march were pressed against the chain link fence as more and more people came forward and pushed against the fence.
Suddenly it collapsed and we rushed forward over the flattened fence running now we reached the steps of the Pentagon, only to be forced back by troop carrying M1 Garands/M14s with sheathed bayonets.
We sat down. It was at this point when some of the Flower Power contingent started placing flowers in the barrels of the troop’s rifles. This was when the famous picture of a hippie man later known as Hibiscus was taken.
While the day had been warm and sunny as soon as evening came the temperature dropped considerably.
For a while it seemed as though the authorities would try to wait us out hoping the cold would cause us to leave. But fires were built, sandwiches, wine and weed were shared.
Through out the night the formal dance of non-violent civil disobedience continue. We sang “We Shall Overcome” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” as those closet to the line of troops were arrested for sitting there. As they went limp and were carried away a fresh group would take their places.
My turn came in the pre-dawn hours, around 4:30. My teeth were chattering from the cold. The cops asked me if I would move rather than be arrested.
I said, “Hell no. I’ve been waiting all night for my turn to be arrested.
They grabbed my arms twisting them backwards, cuffed me and lifted me to my feet. When they got me out of sight of the rest of the people waiting one cop jabbed me in the gut with his night stick, saying, “That’s for making us drag you.”
I was loaded on a bus with others and taken to a huge building at Occaquan, which was a military base in those days. We were processed through in groups, given a small fine and a sentence supended on the condition of our not being arrested at a protest in Washington DC for the next six months.
A few days later, after returning to Cortland with my friends I headed west to California and my future.