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THE VETERAN

Page 10

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Memorial Day Memories

By Pete Zastrow

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Pete Zastrow.

In 1987, the VVAW National Office, along with the Chicago Chapter, was a part of the various campaigns of the moment—treating Agent Orange, exposing the inadequacies of the VA, and watching for the next target of US foreign intervention. High on our list of activities was planning and enacting a 20th Anniversary celebration.

As had become customary in Chicago, we planned a celebration for Memorial Day in May 1987, held at the very public corner of Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, where there was a concrete island. In the past, a monument to veterans stood there. It somehow morphed into a Vietnam memorial fountain, and disappeared for years, a long shabby veterans' story. In any case we would, twice a year, bring several banners and a portable speaker system to rally the 50 or so VVAW members and friends and assorted lefties who appeared on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

On this Memorial Day, it was a new world. City workers built a speaker's platform with microphone. Chicago city police, who regularly paid scant attention to our activities were attentively around the area and Chicago's Mayor, Harold Washington, arrived and spoke. Previously, usually only one or two police/Vietnam vets would stop by to visit.

On this Memorial Day, Mayor Washington declared Vietnam Veterans Against the War Day.



Pete Zastrow is a long-time VVAW member and former VVAW National Coordinator.


Mayor Harold Washington speaking at VVAW event, Chicago.

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