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Save our Sons - Protest group

History Assignment
by

Maxwell Le

on 24 October 2012

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Transcript of Save our Sons - Protest group

Maxwell Le The Australian Anti war movement during the Vietnam War Save Our Sons Save Our Sons (S.O.S) was a group in Australia which "[opposed] to conscription for .. war service, either on humanitarians, religions or pacifist grounds". The group mainly comprised of middle aged women, who had sons which were of conscript age, people who had lost loved ones in WWII and war widows, although the group also had male supporters, such as ex servicemen.

This is shown through Figure 1 which depicts women who protested, with signs saying "Not with my son you don't" and "Stop bombing to stop world war 3" which suggests that they were against the war and conscription. However, the image is unable to depict the struggles which the group faced from the public and the government, which was an important aspect, as it influenced on the group's success. Save Our Sons - Ideology Save Our Sons was an independent, non sectarian protest movement which focused on protecting men, under the age of 18, who were not eligible to vote against conscription. They also protested against the war in Vietnam, which is supported in Figure 2, which depicts the group Save Our Sons, as the name suggests, the group wanted to "save [their] sons" from the process of conscription. Save Our Sons - Movement The group 'Save Our Sons' organized many public protests, in order to attract attention amongst Australians. The group aimed to gain an awareness on the issues of war and to influence the public's mind against conscription. The nature of their protests were civilized, which was very effective towards their movement. They protested against the war by conducting silent protests, sit ins, petitions, handed out leaflets, 'teach ins', approached members of parliament and worked together with other anti war groups. All these actions which were taken by the S.O.S were in order to attract publicity, gain awareness on the issues of conscription and influence the minds of the public. Success of the Protest Group - Save Our Sons During the protest activities, these women were constantly ridiculed and abused by the public. They were accused of being 'communist', which was used against anyone who opposed on Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. However they never gave up and continued with their cause. Because of their gender and enthusiasm, it attracted people's attention and media coverage. As a group they were quite successful in their movement against conscription. Although they did not stop conscription, they attracted the public on issues and consequences of the war. Another success which was made by the S.O.S was that it had given women a new role in society, which had not been seen in history before. They were able to freely voice their opinions and take on roles of men. Although the group did comprise of male members, all office held positions was taken on the women. Draft Resisters' Union - Ideology The Draft Resisters' Union was a group that opposed conscription and refused to agree with the National Service Act, similar to the Save Our Sons. Both groups had the same ideology, however the methods which they undertook differed greatly. The group strongly refused to comply with the National Service Act and protested against the system. Figure 2 - Save Our Sons Public Protest against Conscription
(http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/conscription/images/sos/sos-float.jpg) Figure 1 - Women protesting against conscription in Australia (http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/imageservices/files/2010/03/00223614.jpg) Methods used by The Draft' Resisters Figure 3 - A protest in Sydney protesting against the conscription of young men (https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/plAOztyG2A7I2fLfz9m7rfFwFe8WVSY46OxMkKWFijkv1t7r10f_FhF4Njy6MJWNGjPtzQ_tObVLyJzV4xcKxlTDxKQAeZ_vYCE7JWVdC_AEaFnX8Q) The main method which were employed by the group were their public protests and books which were published as a guide to avoid military service. The public protests of the Draft Resisters' Union is shown in Figure 3 which depicts the groups method against the drafting of soldiers to fight in the war overseas. However, the image is unable to show the atrocities of the war and the effect on the soldiers.

Another method which was used by the Draft Resisters' was their ability to write and publish a book called "Downdraft:A Draft Resistance manual", which was a guide for young men who had considered avoiding military services and outlined ways which they could avoid the draft. This book became quite popular and was a great form of resistance method, as it was very effective. Since 1967 when they first developed the movements supporters had grown to over 200 members, along with 12 000 men who failed to register and did not want to go public. The group also encouraged and gave advice on how people could fail the medical exam. Aust. Government, 2012, Vietnam War Commemoration, Aust Govt learning site, Australia, accessed 19th, October, 2012, <http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/conscription/birthday-ballot.php>
Australian Government, 2012, Rmwebed, History site, accessed 17th, October, 2012 <http://www.rmwebed.com.au/web_resources/y10history/vietnam_war/9.html>
Unknown, 2012, Milesago, Informative site, accessed 11th October 2012 <http://www.milesago.com/features/saveoursons.htm>
Hamel,M, 1964-1972, The Resisters: a history of the Anti Conscription, pg 114-116 From the periods 1945 - 2000, there were many groups formed which were against the Vietnam War and the National Service Act, such as the Save Our Sons (S.O.S) and the Draft Resisters Union.
Hypothesis - Both groups worked diligently, in order to influence public opinion against conscription and the Vietnam War. June McLean, a member of the Fairlea Five, one of the founders of the Save Our Sons Movement, had said that the groups initial "aim was .. we were against conscription for overseas service" (McLean, J, 1987, Interview with June McLean, <http://rmwebed.com.au/web_resources/y10history/vietnam_war/9.html>, accessed 17th October, 2012)
McLean's statement which she had made in an interview sums up the groups belief and purpose. McLean's quote however, does not present the negative aspects of the Vietnam war and reason why they were against conscription. Due to the groups belief and motivation,The Fairlea Five, which consisted of Joan Coxsedge, Jean McLean, Chris Cathie, Jo Maclaine and Irene Miller were arrested for a charge of willful trespass, due to handing out leaflets, which objected boys registering for conscript. It shows how passionate the group were for their movement and emphasizes on the extent which they were willing to go to, for their movement. Introduction Historians View on the SOS Success of the Draft Resisters Union The Draft Resisters' have shown to be successful from the tactics which they had used, such as their: anti conscription books, advising others how to fail the medical exam and public protests. These tactics were much more effective than the Save Our Sons, as it helped these young men avoid going to war and allowed others to actually do something in order to not go to war. In contrast to the Save Our Sons, who focused mainly on spreading the message of anti conscription, but were not able to fix anything. Both groups however used very effective tactics and were successful in different aspects against conscription - the S.O.S were effective in gaining attention and spreading their message, whereas the Draft Resisters' were more successful in helping people avoid going to war. Historians View Bibliography Bob Muntz, a medical researcher at the Royal Children's hospital, who was also against the war and conscription, founded that by opposing conscription, it was his "contribution to stopping the war" (Muntz, B, Interview when asked about the war) Muntz comment showed that people wanted to contribute, against the war and conscription, due to its unfair nature. Muntz, represented many other Australians who also disagreed with the National Service Act due to the involuntary labor which the Department of Labor and National Service demanded. Figure 3 - Letter of Conscription (http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/conscription/images/s-blake-10.jpg)
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