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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

ALIENATION IN THE MILITARY: THE CASE OF TONIO HIXON

Loneliness does not come from not having people about one, but from being unable to communicate that which seems important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissable. (C. G. Jung)

My name is Anthony Hixon. I was a LT (jg) in the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal. I became a bomb defuser because I couldn't figure out any other way to absolve myslef from actually being in the military during 1967-68. Inwardly, I found myself in deep sympathy with the Movement; outwardly, I tried to continue with my work. I felt that speaking out against any of the situations that disturbed me--the war attitudes, the racism, the bureaucratic inefficiency, the pervasive inhumanity--was both useless and dangerous. A folklore voice insisted, When you get in the military, you will find a crazy world--just do your job and don't let it bother you". It bothered the hell out of me and worse. I tried to contain that bother within me.

After twenty-three months of active duty, I went to my superiors and quit. Nobody knew quite what to do with an officer who said he couldn't and wouldn't go on living a moral dilemma. I was discharged.

The only reason for telling this story is that the whole of it is unnecessary. Isolation, futility, and fear drove me to the point where all I could do was lie down and say no. Quitting the military is as irrelevant as going through it with your heart and imagination and abilities locked in a time vault dated for your separation, your return from Nam, or your retirement. You must assume responsibility for your ideals. I know that in the military at large there are many OCS as well as career Officers who have experienced the same isolation, the same alienation. You are not alone, brother. If, through this newsletter, or through your own searchings, you can find other officers who are divided into public and private men and want to get themselves together, then you can find the strength to let people know where you stand. As an officer, you enlisted presumably because you felt you had a duty to your country. Is the nature of that duty to become a machine, or a man? Be honest. Talk to people. Let's get human intelligence and understanding right in the middle of our lives, where it belongs. There is no way to become invisible by putting on a hat.

 

Concerned Officers Movement Newsletter, no. 1

 

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