November 9 - 1965 - The Self-Immolation of Roger LaPorte
The Catholic Worker Movement was vehemently against the Vietnam War from the beginning, but one of its members taking the radical step of setting himself on fire was shocking. That is precisely what Roger LaPorte did by the United Nations Building in New York City. LaPorte was 22 years old, and spoke in the day between his self-immolation and his death about doing it to protest the war and all wars. LaPorte's self-immolation came just a week after a devoted Quaker named Norman Morrison set himself on fire underneath the office window of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara at the Pentagon. These twinned self-immolations were heavily influenced by the similar action of Thic Quan Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who protested the regime of Ngo Ding Diem in 1963. The self-immolation of Thic Quan Duc led to widescale unrest against the repressive Diem regime, which caused the overthrow of his government. Roger LaPorte merely showed that there was more opposition to the Vietnam War than previously thought, all of which would explode in 1966 and 1967.