Roger Allen LaPorte

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Roger Allen LaPorte
Born July 16, 1943
Geneva, New York
Died (aged 22)
Bellevue Hospital, in New York City, New York, U.S.

Roger Allen LaPorte (July 16, 1943 – November 10, 1965) is best known as a protester of the Vietnam War who set himself on fire in front of the United Nations building in New York City on November 9, 1965, to protest the United States involvement in the war. A former seminarian, he was a 22-year-old member of the Catholic Worker Movement at the time of his death.


Born in Geneva, New York,[1] he was active in public speaking and debate clubs winning awards. His parents divorced after Roger graduated from high school. Before joining the Catholic Workers, he had attended a seminary in Vermont and hoped to become a monk. He, however, withdrew from the seminary early and attended (and graduated) from Holy Ghost Academy, Tupper Lake, New York in 1961.[2]

Preceding immolations[edit]

On June 11, 1963 Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection. Thích Quảng Đức was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Ngô Đình Diệm administration. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm regime.

On March 16, 1965 Alice Herz, an 82-year-old pacifist, immolated herself on a Detroit street corner in protest of the escalating Vietnam War. A man and his two boys were driving by and saw her burning and put out the flames. She died of her wounds ten days later.

On November 2, 1965, Norman Morrison doused himself in kerosene and set himself on fire below Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's Pentagon office.[3]

Political suicide[edit]

On November 9, 1965, in front of the Dag Hammarskjold Library at the United Nations in New York, La Porte composed himself in the position of the Buddhist monks who had immolated themselves in Vietnam earlier, doused himself with gasoline, and set himself aflame. [4]

La Porte died the next day at Bellevue Hospital from second- and third-degree burns covering 95 percent of his body. Despite his burns, he remained conscious and able to speak. When asked why he had burned himself, La Porte calmly replied, "I'm a Catholic Worker. I'm against war, all wars. I did this as a religious action."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Find A Grave
  2. ^ [1] Archived September 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "The Pacifists" Time Magazine. November 12, 1965. (Accessed July 23, 2007) [2]
  4. ^ Buckley, Thomas. "Man, 22, Immolates Himself In Antiwar Protest at U.N." New York Times (1857-Current file); Nov 10, 1965; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2004).
  5. ^ A Companion to the Vietnam War by Marilyn Blatt Young, Robert Buzzanco, Dawson Books - 2006