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First Public Draft Card Burning

First Public Draft Card Burning Oct. 15, 1965

Destroying draft cards was certainly not something new in the mid-1960s, but as American occupation in Vietnam escalated, measures were taken to dissuade anyone from these tactics. In August 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a law that made the destruction of draft cards a federal crime (United States Code Title 50, 462). On October 15th, anti-war protests attracted tens of thousands followers across the country in what would be the first organized, public draft card burning in the United States. The act of burning the draft card was not in itself that powerful of an attack against the government, as one’s civic call did not go up in flames along with the card. However, the burning of the draft cards became one of the most powerful images of the time. Images of young men around the nation burning their draft cards wasn’t just a protest against the draft that many felt targeted the economically disadvantaged and minorities, it was a symbol of the fiery persistence of America’s youth to fight against the incredibly unpopular war effort.

First Public Draft Card Burning