What I learned is fear wasn't only in the activist's it was in the community and the atmosphere. The first march included 4,000 students which was known as the silence of the feet because this was all observers heard. The commitment of the protesters was evident when one of the Freedom Writers was hospitalized and interviewed. He was a Caucasian man who was beaten and continued to hold to his beliefs and willing to die for the cause. One of the main students, Diane Nash stated, "You know, if the Freedom Ride had been stopped as a result of violence, I strongly felt that the future of the movement was going to be just cut short because the impression would have been given that whenever a movement starts, that all that has to be done is that you attack it with massive violence and the blacks would stop."
The purpose of the Freedom Riders was to bring awareness to segregation of Interstate bus terminals. The 13 Riders consisted of 6 Caucasians and 7 African Americans. Not all of the Freedom Riders were college students such as Albert Bigelow who was a Navy Veteran from WWII. They planned on May 17 as the day to celebrate the Brown V. Board of Education’s seventh anniversary in New Orleans, Louisiana. This case made segregation within the public school system unconstitutional. During their ride on May 14th, the first bus upon reaching Anniston, Alabama the participants were met by a mob which followed them until their bus tires blew. The riders were faced with beatings from the mob surrounding their bus. A bomb was thrown from the mob into the bus causing it to erupt into a flaming metal skeleton. The second bus which was traveling to Birmingham, Alabama, protesters were also met by a mob and beaten. The Commissioner posted a statement that the riders were not protected by the police due to the fact that it was Mother’s Day. Pictures of the events the riders faced were published across the country receiving international attention regarding the issue of segregation.
The route the Freedom Riders traveled.
In the short story The Dentist, Tim O’ Brien takes a moment to characterize Curt Lemon, “He had a tendency to play the tough soldier role.” This quote foreshadows his actions later in the chapter. An Army dentist flew into their camp to do examinations. Curt appeared nervous and hesitant about having an examination. He told them, “Back in high school he’d had a couple of bad experiences with dentists. Real sadism.” When it was his turn he ended up passing out before it even started. Embarrassed by his actions he pesters the dentist to fix his “toothache” till he pulls out a tooth. He had his moment of redemption and seemed proud to keep up his role.
In How to Tell a True War Story, Mitchell Sanders tells Tim O’ Brien about a group of men that goes up into the mountains to listen for the enemy. Within this story he describes how the silence creates noise of its own. “The trees talk politics, the monkeys talk religion. The whole country. Vietnam. The place talks. It talks. Understand? Nam-it truly talks.” The men radio in camp for air strikes. Afterwards all the noise is gone and everything turns to silence. Sanders later explains that he exaggerated to get him to really listen. The moral of his story was to really listen closely to your surroundings.