In 1968, my cousin Susan was attending UC Berkeley. I am sure this was a life-altering event for her, but it was also a life-altering event for me, a 10-year-old girl. While visiting my cousin in the summer of 1968, she started talking to me about the Vietnam War. I was young and really did not understand the whole war situation. Susan became part of the courageous student movement to protest the wasteful, unjustified war that was killing many people who were the same age as the college students. Susan explained that the students at Berkeley were some of the first to protest, and they did not stop protesting until the older generation in charge could no longer ignore the protests. Those students at Berkeley and at other universities changed history. My life was changed because of the admiration I felt for the students who were standing up to their government. I no longer accepted things as “just the way it is.” Those students at Berkeley in the 1960s should be proud of their place in history.
I am writing this because I am now sad and not impressed with the current students at Berkeley. Why haven’t the students continued with the Berkeley heritage of standing up and trying to protest wrong actions from their government? Our country has been involved in another wasteful, unjustified war for more than 10 years now, and I have not heard about protests at Berkeley or any other university to the degree that the 1960s students protested. The current students at Berkeley could start a monumental movement that may force the leaders of our country to end this nonsensical war. I do what I can by voting in members of Congress who have stated that they are against prolonging this war. But there is no group that could actually make a difference and be heard in great numbers than students at universities. I have been waiting and waiting to hear on the news stories that Berkeley students are again taking the lead and standing up against a war that will never be won and ultimately be thought of as another Vietnam tragedy. Are the current students not willing to continue the brave tradition of fighting for what is right by sustained protests? If not, why not? Do the current students not feel like they have a stake in our country’s future? Are they so self-consumed that they no longer care about anything but their own future? What happened at Berkeley in the 1960s changed my entire view of life. It’s too bad young kids now aren’t going to have that same great experience.