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OpinionOpEd

Dad, a veteran, marched with us against the Vietnam War

Anne and Fred Lefkof with daughter Phyllis Lefkof

Anne and Fred Lefkof with daughter Phyllis Lefkof Weinberger in 1993. Photo Credit: Weinberger family photo

I was a student at Brooklyn College during the turmoil of the Vietnam War. Demonstrations became an everyday occurrence after the tragic shooting deaths of four students by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University in 1970, the year of my graduation.

Between classes, we lined up with antiwar signs and posters on the campus quadrangle. Students made speeches. We listened and applauded. Everyone turned a blind eye to those who objected. Killing college students was our last straw.

My dad worked in Manhattan and each morning would stop at the 42nd Street library to find out the newest number of young American soldiers killed in Vietnam.

We lived in Midwood, not far from the campus. After work, he would come to the college in the afternoon with a poster and show his support for our demonstrations. He would write the new number of fallen heroes on his sign.

I was so proud of him. There were no other parents at the college demonstrating against the war, only my dad, Fred Lefkof.

He was easily recognized. He wore his suit, tie and fedora and stood proudly on the steps of Boylan Hall. He demonstrated with intense patriotism, showing his dissatisfaction for an unjustified war. He felt the Viet Cong were no threat to the security of the United States. There was no need draft our finest young men and send them to war. A Marine veteran of World War II, he understood what it meant to be in combat. He had lived through the horrors of war and did not want young people to experience them.

He made politics and current events a staple at the dinner table each night. Walter Cronkite and dessert went hand in hand. Walter and Dad were my two most trusted men in America.

Dad always made a point of reading The New York Times and sharing the most important articles of the day with me. In my teen years, he insisted that I "go through" the paper each day if I really wanted to be smart. We started with international top stories and covered the whole paper, including the obituaries. He made a news junkie out of me at an early age.

I lost my dad in 1996 when he was 83. I have his picture framed in the den next to the TV at my home in North Woodmere. I'll give it a subtle glance when I see a news story on TV about war. Yes, Dad, I know exactly what you'd say, because conflict brought you back to your own days at war.

Reader Phyllis Weinberger lives in North Woodmere.

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