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The Vietnam War in Washington Timeline

The Vietnam War


  • August 7, 1964

    Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

    President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 7, 1964 (Source: National Archives and Records Administration)

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    Congress overwhelming approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson nearly unlimited powers to use military force against "communist aggression" in Southeast Asia without a formal declaration of war.

  • April 17, 1965

    First Major Vietnam War Protest in D.C.

    SDS Poster, "End the War in Vietnam March on Washington April 17, 1965" (Source: University of Michigan)

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    Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) holds its first anti-Vietnam War protest rally in Washington, D.C. It was the largest peace protest up to that point in American history, drawing between 15,000 and 25,000 college students and others to the nation's capital.

  • October 21, 1967

    "Levitate the Pentagon" Protest

    A female demonstrator offers a flower to military police on guard at the Pentagon. October 21, 1967 (Source: National Archives and Records Administration)

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    100,000 anti-Vietnam War protesters gather for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. After speeches and a folk music performance, about half the crowd marches over the Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon where they attempt to "levitate" the building and "exorcise" the American war machine.

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  • January 15, 1968

    Jeannette Rankin Brigade

    Members of a women's brigade hold a banner protesting the Vietnam War at a march led by former Montana Rep. Jeannette Rankin in 1968. (Source: AP)

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    Jeannette Rankin, a renowned pacifist, made history as the first woman elected to Congress in 1916. At age 87, Rankin makes one final push for peace by leading an anti-Vietnam War march: the Jeannette Rankin Brigade — a demonstration of thousands of women in Washington, D.C.

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  • November 15, 1969

    The Moratorium March

    500,000 protestors flood into Washington for the largest anti-war demonstration in U.S. history. The rally features antiwar politicians and musicians such as Pete Seeger, who led the crowd in singing John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." President Nixon reportedly spent the day watching sports on TV.

    The Moratorium March: On November 15, 1969 half a million citizens gathered in D.C. to protest the war.
  • April 4, 1970

    March for Victory

    With Bible in hand, the Rev. Carl McIntire and his wife, Fairy McIntire, lead the "March for Victory" on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., April 6, 1970. McIntire said his parade was a demonstration for military victory in Vietnam. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty)

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    The "March for Victory" marks the era’s largest pro-war demonstration, attracting about 50,000 protesters — simultaneously objecting to President Nixon's reduction of U.S. troop levels and "hippies and yippies everywhere."

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  • May 1970

    College Park Explodes

    Student protesters face down riot police on Route 1, University of Maryland, 1970 (Source: University of Maryland Special Collections)

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    The University of Maryland's campus is rocked by raucous protests from May 1-11, 1970. Protesters continuously skirmished with police armed with batons, tear gas and dogs. Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel finally sent in National Guard troops to quash the uprising.

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  • May 9, 1970

    Nixon Visits Protesters

    In the early morning hours of May 9, 1970 President Nixon drove to the Lincoln Memorial and mingled with a group of anti-war demonstrators. Here, Nixon chats with Barbara Hirsch, 24, of Cleveland, Ohio (left) and Lauree Moss, of Detroit, Mich. (Photo: © Bettmann/CORBIS)

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    Just days after the Kent State tragedy, President Nixon made a bizarre pre-dawn visit to the Lincoln Memorial to talk with anti-war protesters.

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  • March 1, 1971

    Bomb Rocks U.S. Capitol

    The Weather Underground bombed the Capitol building in protest of U.S. involvement in Laos. The bomb exploded in a Capitol restroom 30 minutes after a telephone warning. Some $200,000 in damage was caused with no injuries.

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  • April 23, 1971

    Operation Dewey Canyon III

    In the final event of "Operation Dewey Canyon III," nearly 1,000 Vietnam veterans throw their combat ribbons, helmets and uniforms on the Capitol steps to protest the war.

    Operation Dewey Canyon III
  • May 3, 1971

    Mayday Tribe Protests

    An employee of the Justice Department is helped over demonstrators blocking the entrance to the building in Washington, May 1, 1971. Some of the antiwar protesters were arrested. (Source: AP Photo)

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    Anti-war protesters calling themselves the Mayday Tribe begin four days of demonstrations in Washington aimed at shutting down the nation's capital. 13,000 protesters were arrested in 3 days.

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  • June 13, 1971

    The Pentagon Papers

    The New York Times publishes stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a classified document about the controversial Vietnam War that had been leaked to the Times by Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst.

    Daniel Ellsberg at the Los Angeles courthouse, 1973; Anthony Russo and Patricia Ellsberg to his right. (Source: AP Photo)
  • 1975

    Arlington's Little Saigon

    After the fall of Saigon in April 1975, Arlington, Virginia became a destination for Vietnamese immigrants fleeing communist rule. Attracted by proximity to the nation's capital and the Pentagon, thousands of Vietnamese settled in the area and many opened shops and restaurants.

    Arlington's Little Saigon
  • November 13, 1982

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dedicated

    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is officially dedicated after a march by thousands of Vietnam vets. Despite early controversy over its design, "The Wall" is now hallowed ground visited by millions each year. Inscribed on the black granite walls are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing.

    Honored to Serve: Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • 1984

    Eden Center Opens

    Eden Center Arch (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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    The Plaza Seven Shopping Center in Falls Church, Virginia begins its transformation into Eden Center — the largest Vietnamese commercial center on the East Coast, as the growing local Vietnamese-American community begins to open businesses at the site. Today it is home to over 120 shops, restaurants and businesses.

  • May 30, 1988

    First Rolling Thunder

    By Cristiano Del Riccio - originally posted to Flickr as Rolling Thunder, Memorial Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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    In 1987 Ray Manzo, a Marine corporal, and Artie Muller, a Vietnam veteran, began planning a group motorcycle ride to the Vietnam Veretrans Memorial to raise awareness for veterans' issues. About 2,500 riders participated in the first "Run to the Wall" on Memorial Day 1988. The annual event now attracts over 900,000 bikers and spectators.

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