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Sunday April 19, 2015
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Homecoming, 1965

 

continued

fire engines, clowns, antique cars, and a bevy of go-go girls, Playboy bunnies, and beauty queens.

By the time the parade drew to a close, however, the mood had turned from festive to foul. Spectators were booing, hissing, and shouting insults. A few began to launch projectiles at the float in the rear. Paper, sticks, raw eggs, and Coke bottles flew through the air, striking the float and its riders. Then a group of about fifty young men mobbed the float, tearing and ripping until nothing was left but the wire frame.

The float eventually managed to break away from its attackers and limped off, chased by a group of jeering boys.

Although it may sound like a scene from Animal House, this was a documented real-life event.

And it happened in Ann Arbor.

The date was Friday, October 15, 1965, and the focus of all the ill feeling was a simple, no-frills affair. Spare to the point of ugliness, the float depicted an American soldier guarding a group of Vietnamese peasant women in a barbed-wire enclosure--a "strategic hamlet," as the U.S. government called it. Signs on the side read, "This is homecoming for Vietnamese displaced by American bombing."

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