reporter contents :: albright college

The Last Word

Reflections From a Former Dove

1967 Albrightian StaffWar was all over the front pages week after week. But it wasn’t the New York Times and it wasn’t the War in Iraq. It was the Albrightian and the war was Vietnam.

By some stroke of luck, I was editor of the Albrightian from 1966 to 1968 and, therefore, got a pretty close view of the situation. It seemed like an exciting and energizing time, although it may be that I just had a lot more energy back then.

I was going through my old copies of the Albrightian (I am undoubtedly the only person in the universe with every back copy for that period) and was struck by how apparently obsessed we were with the Vietnam War and its surrounding political and social scene.

In today’s terminology, it would be an understatement to say that the Vietnam War was politically incorrect on the college campuses of America. The country was divided into hawks and doves. From our viewpoint, the doves ruled the campuses and the hawks lived in places like Texas and Arizona.

The defining moment came when baby doctor and anti-war activist Benjamin Spock came to speak at the fieldhouse in February 1968. His speech brought euphoria to the students, consternation to the administration and outrage in the Reading community. I guess there were hawks in our midst after all. The Reading Times ran an editorial cartoon, showing a wailing “Baby Spock” in an Albright “cradle.” In retrospect, it was a clever cartoon, but it really teed us off at the Albrightian, as did editorials in the Reading Times and Reading Eagle. The editorials criticized the College for giving Dr. Spock a forum.

We blasted back with our own editorials, defending the College’s right to present diverse opinions and accusing the Reading papers of gross immaturity. (I later went to work for the Reading Times and didn’t include our editorials on my resume.) I flew back to Philadelphia with Dr. Spock on a college-funded private plane and conducted an interview which we ran as “Dr. Spock Speaks at 2000 Feet.” It was a good story, and a lot of fun. It also caused extreme umbrage from Albright President Arthur Schultz, seeing as how I hadn’t gotten administration approval for my high-flying antics. Today, I see his point.

The Vietnam War was an important part of our education in the 60s. It was a learning experience for most Americans—of all political persuasions. Among other things, it taught America that war should not be waged without a full commitment, as Secretary of State Colin Powell has so often contended. It also taught us that Americans have the right to their opinions.

So why then, three decades later, was the anti-Iraq war movement so disturbing to me and many other former liberals and doves? Maybe, we just got more conservative with age. But, I think the real reason rests in the new lessons of September 11th.

The Vietnam War just never seemed real to us back then. It was in a faraway place and the reality never hit home for many of us, certainly never in the safe confines of Albright College.

Of course, Vietnam was very real—with human tragedy, suffering, honor and personal dedication. It was especially real to the family and friends of those who died or were wounded in that distant land. The Vietnam War was a scene of death and destruction, but it took the tragedy of September 11th to pound this point home.

The world has gotten a lot smaller since the 1960s, as we have seen from the events since 2001. How naïve it now seems to recall the 60s slogan of “Just Give Peace a Chance.” From my perspective today, it just isn’t possible to not be involved.

David Mink '68

by David A. Mink ’68

— David A. Mink ’68 is the
chief executive officer for
the Mink Companies,
a family-owned business
based in Manhattan.
He resides in Saint Davids, Pa.
with his wife Dorothy (Post) Mink ’69.

reporter contents :: albright college