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Mary Whitt's Story

What memories surfaced as I read the article about WSW in the DU magazine.  For background-I had spent K-12 at a convent school, then went on for two years at a Jesuit University.  Somewhat sheltered?  I decided to transfer to DU for a variety of reasons, and arrived in December of 1969.  Now picture this-I went from uniforms and a dress code in college-no pants on females except on weekends and then only in the library.  The kids on the DU campus wore jeans to class!  The smell of weed was everywhere, not just outside.  I had seen marijuana twice in my life.  Total reality flip.  Then in February of 1970, my boyfriend of four years was killed in Vietnam.  He was a medic on a Red Cross helicopter that was shot down.  Isn't that against all the rules?  Was this the first time I figured that life was not fair?  In reaction, I discovered beer and weed, and used them to deal with the loss.

When Nixon bombed Cambodia, and we saw the murders at Kent State, the student body went pretty freaky.  Most stopped going to classes, and the faculty had to come up with ideas to deal with us.  Pass/fail.  One or the other, no letter grades.  Music on the lawn, drugs all around.  Days and days of a spring break that was not sanctioned.  Finally, the consequences.  The National Guard was to be utilized.  Problem was, a lot of those fellas were DU students.  Lose-lose situation for them.  Of course all parents were freaking out because of the information they were getting.  My mother sent me a picture from the St. Louis Post Dispatch that showed some pretty flower child placing a bloom in the rifle barrel of some poor member of the Guard.


To demonstrate solidarity (and to continue the party) we set our alarms so we could see the confrontation.  The word had been passed around exactly when they were due to arrive, and which route they would take.  Is it possible some politician had gotten some pressure from wealthy and powerful parents that their Tad/Buffy could not be hurt in any way?  The most amusing part (and I think this is true) was the single arrest they made.  Some doofuss had overslept in his shanty and didn't get out in time.


At least, we helped to end that useless war.  My boyfriend was only one of 50,000+ killed over there.  And Macnamera has the balls to write in his memoir that it was a "mistake".  It changed the direction of my life completely.


Mary, This is a powerful
Sun, 06/19/2011 - 9:58pm - by Sheila Schroeder


This is a powerful story in so many ways. You show us the dramatic changes in your personal life -- from nearly being cloistered -- to the very open life as a member of the counterculture.

And the story of your boyfriend's death as a medic is clearly a tragedy as were the deaths of all during that needless war. Why do we keep thinking war fixes things?

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself here, Mary, and contributing to our collective memory of this important time in history.