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(Special to the CRIMSON)
Washington, D.C., April 21-Preparations for Saturday's march, the third in the last two years, hit the last rhetorical and logistical plateau here today.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Jerry Gordon, coordinator of the sponsoring National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC), predicted this would be "the largest antiwar demonstration ever held" on the basis of train and bus reservations.
Three trains and some 1500 buses, including 55 from Boston and another 400 from New England, are expected for the 10 a.m. march Saturday.
[A few individuals at Harvard are selling tickets for the NPAC. Eight Widener librarians are manning a table in the Widener stack room, selling tickets and soliciting donations. Tickets are also available in the William James Lobby from noon to 2 p.m. and in Room 337 of William James from 2 to 5 p.m. The bus rides cost $18 round trip and the train seats $30.]
While the majority of the demonstrators will again come from East Coast colleges and universities, march coordinators, apprehensive over lagging ticket sales in major antiwarcenters such as Boston, are now emphasizing the wide mixture of G.I.'s, veterans, businessmen, housewives, and students rather than making estimates of the crowd size.
Cornered in a busy back room of NPAC's Washington office at 1029 Vermont Avenue (the same offices as used in last November's march) Lynne Watson, NPAC's press coordinator, took note of Harvard's apparent lack of interest with a single testy question. "Dopeople in Cambridge really care?" she asked. "Or are they just going to sit around and smoke dope and talk about how boring mass demonstrations are?"
Until this week, there has been little concern about the possibility of small turnouts from Boston and other student centers, and considerable elation over a swelling stack of bus reservations from previously inactive areas such as Sewanee, Tenn. (one bus); Hollywood, Fla.(one bus); Austin, Texas (two buses); Houston, Texas (five); and Madison, Wisconsin (20).
In addition, march organizers report that they have received strong support from several local and national labor leaders. District 65 of the Distributive Workers in New York, for instance, has chartered a train for its members.
The march-moving from the Ellipse behind the White House down Pennsylvania Avenue to the steps of the Capitol for a noon rally-will be divided into 25 contingents to reflect the diversity of antiwar sentiment.
Active-duty G.I.'s and Vietnam veterans will lead it, followed in turn by a Congressional delegation, draft resisters, political groups, a women's contingent, labor unions, high school students, and finally college students.
It is a sign of both the strength and weakness of NPAC's march preparations that the purpose of Saturday's demonstration is no more well-defined than "antiwar," demanding "immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Southeast Asia." March organizers talked almost exclusively about logistical problems. And the literature which flows constantly out of the office's Xerox machines contains primarily instructions on housing, food and marshalling techniques.
The pained and often heated discussions of last year over whether antiwar demands should favor "immediate" or "rapid" or "phased" withdrawal have been forgotten; and those antiwar moderates who worried most over the wording are now at the nexus of pre-march activities.
Operating out of the same building, NPAC and the more militant MAYDAY tribes which will be staging spontaneous civil disobedience throughout Washington next week have found a comfortable coexistence in promoting each other's protests.
The schedule of speakers for Saturday's Capitol rally is both long and varied, including Ralph Abernathy, Dave Dellinger, Senator Vance Hartk (D-Ind.), Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), Coretta King, Country Joe and the Fish, Teamsters vice-president Harold Gibbons, and, of course, George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology.
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