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“No more blood!” the crowd chanted. It was June 1970. The television news cameras focused on unnamed faces. I held my peace sign poster high as I led a long line of war protestors east on New York City’s Central Park South. I glanced at the New York City Police Department keeping the peace, keeping us away from the two senators about to arrive for dinner at the landmark Plaza Hotel. We were sure their agenda focused on Vietnam, and we wanted to influence them to stop the bombings. We wanted them to influence Congress, the president, and Henry Kissinger who was at the peace talks in Paris.
“Will we make a difference today?” I asked my friend, Daniel MacIntyre, who had appeared at my side, but I was looking at Officer Sal Mendoza. He caught my eye. He was one good-looking cop.
“Do you know Officer Mendoza?” I asked Daniel.
“I spoke to him at the last protest. Be careful with your attention, Hannah. He’s married.”
“Right. Thanks for the heads-up.”
Vietnam’s civil war had splintered the United States. The war divided families, friends, and classmates on its own tiny peninsula in Southeast Asia as well as in North America. It affected the military men and women as well as their civilian families. It took a heavy toll. The Vietnam War was a mammoth, frightening ogre who roared and raged over the United States. It had engaged most Americans, be they in favor or opposed. The ogre didn’t threaten the U.S. mainland or any of its territories, while it continued to endanger U.S. lives.The president continued to send troops to battle the communists.
Things were going smoothly at the protest until someone bumped me and I fell to my knees. I looked up. Officer Mendoza glanced at me. When Daniel reached down to help me, a woman tripped over him and smashed a bottle of thick red liquid on the pavement. She shouted, “No more U.S. blood!” Other voices joined hers. Soon, the chant reverberated throughout the circular drive in front of The Plaza. “No more blood! No more blood!”
A scuffle broke out as the police arrested the woman. One man tried to pull her away from an officer. Another officer grabbed the man’s arm, and both slipped on the slimy pavement. I tried to help, but someone stopped me. I turned and looked into the black opal eyes of Officer Mendoza. He marched me to the police van parked on the other side of the barricade. Another officer brought Daniel.
“They think I planned this, Daniel. Say something,” I called to him.
“You want me to say something? How about you? Go on. Speak up for yourself.”
“You’re the guy who has connections at the precinct.”
“And you’re the girl who wants to be an independent woman.”
“Later,” Mendoza snapped as he looked at me and led me van.
Daniel sat next to me. His knee leaned against mine. His shoulder followed. I knew Daniel. I knew his political and personal views on everything from high school curricula to marriage and raising children.
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