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First GI Coffeehouse Since Viet Nam Opens in Watertown

Seeking to support anti-war soldiers and encourage their connection with the broader movement, the Different Drummer Café opened its doors near Fort Drum (Watertown, NY) late in October. Fort Drum is home to the Army's 10th Mountain Division where 15,000 combat troops and several thousand reservists are stationed. Many see duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tod Ensign, director of the GI/veterans rights advocacy group Citizen Soldier, and originator of the project notes, "Many young soldiers today quest for intellectual, cultural and political fulfillment, as they always have. We hope that this coffeehouse, which combines an alternative bookstore with a lively mix of free musical performances, stand up comedy and poetry… with some political speechifying thrown in, will become highly popular with a significant minority of GIs."

The Different Drummer seeks to provide an oasis in the frigid environs of Watertown. Like the coffeehouses of the Viet Nam War era, it will be supporting those soldiers and veterans working to end the Iraq War.

While often overlooked, the GI anti-war movement played a vital role in ending the Viet Nam War. Coffeehouses, with the first opening outside Ft. Jackson, SC in late 1967, helped spur the growth of that movement. Over the next year, similar projects sprang up outside 20 other major US bases.

Organizers hope that a successful pilot project at Fort Drum will stimulate the creation of similar efforts at other key posts, hastening the end of this bloody war.

The Café opened with a news conference and kickoff Halloween Party on October 27. Upcoming events - always free - include, the film "Poison Dust" dust on Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, 3 pm, followed by a gala featuring Syracuse's Los Blancos at 8 pm. "Sir, No Sir" will be shown on November 18, at 2 pm, with a Pre-Turkey Day Party that evening at 8 pm with "Rex and the Ripcords".

The Café is in the Paddock Arcade, 1 Public Square in Watertown. To learn more call (315) 782-0595 or visit

SPC is supporting the Café. Join us for a benefit Poker Night on Saturday, November 4 at 7:30 pm at 401 Scottholm Blvd. Syracuse. To RSVP and get directions, call 445-2840.