TFHS Students Share "A Day of Concern"
By CHARLIE KELLER
TURNERS FALLS- "A Day of Concern" a quiet,
soul-searching relaxing day on the lawn under the pines at Turners Falls High
School yesterday reflecting on the pros, cons and moralities of the Vietnam
war and the Cambodian invasion, proved to be an interesting and enlightening
experience for TFHS students, according to school administrators, teachers and
The TFHS Student Council, with permission of Prin. Donald J. Lapierre, set
up a speaking-discussion rally with a Vietnamese Catholic priest, two University
of Massachusetts government department professors, a retired professor of engineering
and two students taking part.
Also on hand were St. Mary's folk singing group which was slightly upstaged
halfway through the program by a rock group know as "Wrought" ("Like
in Iron," one student explained.)
Moderator for the program was Junior High School Prin. Paul C. Bassett who,
with LaPierre and others late termed the whole program as "enlightening,"
"deeply moving", and "excellent".
Fr. Hua, a Vietnamese Catholic priest who is a doctoral candidate at UMass
and attached to the Newman Center there, began the speaking by reviewing the
backgrounds of Indo-Chinese nations and the events that led to their current
situations. Fr. Hua was "born in North Vietnam, moved to South Vietnam
in 1954 and became a chaplain in the South Vietnamese army.
The first speaker advocating a quick withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam
and Cambodia and denouncing Pres. Nixon's decision to send troops into Cambodia
as "unconstitutional" was Dr. Charles Burke, a UMass government department
He said he was in favor of a government amendment that will prevent money from
being appropriated for troop movement in Cambodia after a certain date and the
same in Vietnam after 1970 without a declaration of war by Congress. No matter
how you call it, the action is a war, he said.
"The time has gone by on all such power being given to a president,"
he said. "I don't want all my eggs in the hands of one official. This is
the position of a good many of my colleagues."
Carl Keyser, an Amherst resident who is a former professor of engineering at
UMass and now retired, spoke in favor of Pres. Nixon and his administration's
stand, reviewed the history of Communist aggression all over the world bringing
the situation up to the present time. Speaking on the move into Cambodia, Keyser
said, "Carrying the war to its source of supply in Cambodia is an improvement
over fighting the war in Vietnam alone. This should have been done long ago
in North Vietnam too."
In a question and answer period after his talk, Keyser defended Vice-Pres.
Spiro Agnew's "stand and rhetoric" against the news media. He flatly
denied an implication that he was a member of the John Birch Society, but did
but did point out, "At least the Birchers don't go around smashing windows
and creating violence," this drawing a round of applause.
Keyser also quoted himself further as a member of the Amherst Republic Town
Committee but said that he had "become dislusioned" with the Republican
Party in Massachusetts and was "about to get out." He told news reporters
after his speech that he had gladly given up his career as an engineering professor
to follow his conscience and speak at such rallies at yesterday's here. "I
find it a much more rewarding experience," he said.
Following the musical selections of Wrought, which were met with mixed but
attentive reactions, Prof. Joseph Braunthal of the UMass government department
continued the theme of withdrawal set up earlier by Prof. Burke.
Prof. Braunthal described many "democratic countries where students are
jailed. He said also that the South Vietnamese government only can remain in
power with the presence of United States military might.
He said, "Where are our democratic allies?" he claimed the answer
to much more than just communism against non-communism. "The average peasant
in these countries is not interested in ideology. He is interested only in getting
enough to eat. He doesn't want foreigners on his soil."
"Why is it we always align ourselves to governments which continue to
cater to wealthy landlords and keep the working man down. We support reactionary
governments and military juntas which do not have the majority of the people
in back of them."
He claimed also that the differences between the United States and the USSR
Noting again the average peasant doesn't want foreigners there he said, "It
was an error to go there (Cambodia). They will only establish sanctuaries elsewhere.
The 20-mile invasion limit does not make sense. The invasion is only an expansion
of the war and will make sense. The invasion is only an expansion of the war
and will make it more dangerous. It's a guerilla war that cannot be won by either
He advocated pulling out of Vietnam as soon as possible. "Enough blood
has been spilled already. Continued American presence will only lead to more."
He also predicted the Vietnamization policy of this country will be a "big
TFHS's Dave Simanski spoke quickly in favor of with drawal concluding with,
"Men have learned to fly like the birds. Men can swim in the sea like fish.
But man has not yet learned to walk the earth in peace."
Speaking for the administration and its policies, Gertz? Bonnette noted, "The
south of today is concerned. That is good. Many disagree with President Nixon.
War is wrong. But no man in Nixon's position would deliberately do anything
that is going to ultimately hurt the nation and its ultimate goal of peace.
"I wonder who has filled the heads of students and steamed them up to
attack their own leaders and country." Bonnette likened this to goals of
communists established years ago.
"I am not saying youthful dissenters are supporting communism, but I am
saying youth does not know enough about communism to understand how it works,"
he finished. For this he received much applause.
Classes were suspended for the day at 9:30. The rally lasted until well after
1 pm. Students for the most part were interested and attentive from the start.
The questions they asked the speakers were well thought out and responsible.
"They all seemed to have gained much experience and knowledge from this
program," said Prin. LaPierre, who had given consent for the rally, provided
good speakers on both sides of the issue could be found. And they were.