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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Peace Is The GIs Cause
The question of AWOL is becoming a problem of greater magnitude than ever before. Military brigs are overflowing with soldiers who abhor the gross inequities between American ideologies and American activities. Individual protest is one way the GI can regain a personal integrity that national policies have forced him to abandon. But singular activity does not stop a war. Nor does it have a significant impact in the movement to regain a national integrity that has been lacking for too long. The Ally proposes an alternative that involves personal and national integrity – mass action within the military system.
An organization for concerned GIs has already been formed in the San Francisco area. The GIA (GI Association), which is a take off on the CIA, originated under the leadership of Lt. Hugh F. Smith and AFC Michael Locks for the April 27 San Francisco Peace March. Its membership now numbers in the thousands and includes GIs in England, Germany, Korea and elsewhere. Even GIs in Vietnam are becoming an active , integral segment of the movement.
The GIA has embarked on a serious campaign to establish a national communications system to coordinate all GIs in mass actions, Coffee houses, GI newspapers and civilian organizations have given full support to the GIA in the common cause of peace. The GIA has gone even further in insuring protection for its members. Panels of lawyers and clergymen have expressed a willingness and desire to defend any and all GIs participating in sane, democratic demonstrations. This brings us to an important event occurring in San Francisco on October 12.
The GIA, in conjunction with Veterans for Peace, is sponsoring and leading its own peace march. Early estimates indicate 50,000 GIs and civilians are expected to participate. GI s will tell the world that they no longer wish to wage an unjust war, that they now want to wage peace. The Ally views this as an historic beginning of the reversal of the control of the military power. GIs , in fact, will no longer condone military actions without having a voice in determining the use of power and the cause in which it is used.
Peace is the soldier’s cause. He fights, and perhaps dies, in order that others may never have to fight again. But soldiers are humans, and wars are not their only weapons. Glory is far outweighed by pain and nameless graves. The men who fight and die have never been released by victory, there are always more wars, invented by others, to once again plunge them into battle.
The soldier has become a weapon; but the demand to suspend his humanity can never make him lose it. Nor can the command “KILL” ever justify or fully relieve the horror of murder. It is a vicious morality, and the most personal one, that compels the warrior, while he kills, to aid the wounded. Only the soldier knows how to cry for the slain, to dream of peace. Soldiers in their guts, know the meaning of it. They crave peace most, because they suffer most from war.
Freedom of expression is out basic heritage. That right is not eliminated when a man becomes a soldier. Indeed, that right is enhanced; it becomes a duty – duty to laud his country for its greatness, and, like any other citizen, to criticize any betrayal of its basic ideals. A soldier’s obligation is not to silence and unquestioning obedience. It is to speak out for the truth, for what is best for his people and, perhaps to die in defending them. Death can be the extreme expression of freedom.
A nation may bind a soldier legally to violence; but the contract is mutual. He, in turn, must demand of his nation a sane recognition of the limitations of military violence; that armed force must be unleashed only as a last and desperate resolution in defense of the country, not in any and all contingencies.
Those who control force, more than anyone, must struggle to guarantee it is never used unjustly. They, more than anyone, must expose the hypocrisies of this and any other society. They must work to eradicate injustice, so that conflict arising from frustration will never erupt, before frustration can lead to further violence. The The soldier, too, must criticize and construct; and he must not allow those who control force to crush his integrity. His the real paradox. Who else is called upon to kill in order to save.
Perhaps the request that the military consider saving lives is patently ludicrous, since armies today, as always, seem to delight in wholesale slaughter. Nonetheless, The plea is being made, GI s everywhere, the dog faces, the sailors, marines and airmen are beseeching the American public to get to know us. Get to know us as human beings, and learn when and when not to send us into battle. And most of all, in times of haphazard and brutal force, in an era of aimless wars, let the ones who must die for peace, wage peace also.
Lt. Hugh F. Smith
AIC Michael R, Locks
Hamilton AFB, California
The Ally, no. 9