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Protesters from Vietnam War era join 'Occupy' movement

John Makely / msnbc.com

William Johnsen, 62, of Staten Island, New York, a Vietnam veteran and a lifelong activist, at the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zucottii Park.

Disabled Vietnam veteran William Johnsen has been attending the “Occupy Wall Street” protest for 3½ weeks. On Tuesday, he arrived there from a hospital where he receives treatment for a genetic condition that has triggered emphysema and liver disease. About the demonstrations, he said:

“Government and our other institutions of authority are so corrupt that we cannot trust them anymore. There is a rebirth of realization that it’s in our hands.

“As somebody who has walked thousands of miles for jobs, democracy and justice, this is the type of spirit that was lacking in so many of my walks that I’ve done alone reaching out to people.”

Noah Addis / Noah Addis for msnbc.com

Left to right: Gary Laison, his wife Diane Laison and Joan Kosloff, all of Philadelphia, take part in the Occupy Philadelphia protest outside of City Hall in Philadelphia on Wednesday, 10/12/2011. Amid the mix of students, laid-off middle class and blue collar workers, Vietnam-era protesters are also taking part in the "occupy" protests that are spreading across the country.

Gary Laison, 74, said:

"I think the kids like seeing older people there. I think the sense (that) they are not alone, that they are a part of this span of generations is important to them, and an important part of the whole process." 

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