After decades of denouncing the Vietnam War by word and deed, this city did something truly revolutionary Saturday - it honored 22 local men lost in the conflict.
“It is historic, there’s just no question about it,” Mayor Shirley Dean said.
The Veterans Day remembrance was even led by Country Joe McDonald, a stalwart protester and author of anti-Vietnam songs.
McDonald, a Navy veteran himself, said he became involved in veterans issues as his old ideas of “good guys or bad guys,” changed to “just a lot of victims.”
The room was filled with a poignant collection of mementos that brought some to tears as they looked at the military caps, bravery citations and stiffly posed photographs.
“The healing is still going on,” McDonald said. “It may take the rest of our lives.”
In its heyday, Berkeley was a center of the anti-Vietnam War movement. City Council members refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and protesters carried the flag of the Viet Cong through the streets.
Some surviving Vietnam veterans returned to a chilly or downright unpleasant welcome and those who did not return were mourned in private.
But times have changed.