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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
We are active duty officers in the Armed Forces of the United States. Some of us have served in Vietnam. We have not shaken hands with the troops, we have led them. We have not listened to the briefings with all their polish and precision, we have given those briefings and we know what they do not tell. Some of us are Academy graduates. We have seen "Duty, Honor, Country" perverted beyond recognition to "Duty, Honor, Army" or "Navy" or "Air Force" or "Marines." This we reject, for there is such a thing in these troubled times as being loyal to one's Army and disloyal to one's country. That we will not do. We have sworn to defend the Constitution and so we will.
Each of us is many things before he is a military officer. Each of us, as Richard Nixon has stated, is a "...citizen first and a soldier second." We are also human beings. And as human beings, citizens, and military officers, we reject the Vietnam war. One need only read General William C. Westmoreland's Report on the War in Vietnam as of June, 1968 to gain the flavor of this war, one characterized by both massive destructive technology and the inability to distinguish combatants from non-combatants. This is 1970 and the bombs have fallen for years and years and years. This is a war, some say, where, given Dow Chemical and more technology, the ovens are brought to the people instead of the people to the ovens. An estimated 3,000 Vietnamese still die each week.
And this is a senseless conflict. In pursuit of a series of myths we have proceeded to destroy another people's country and, in the process, tear and strain at the fabric of our own society. Over 50,000 American men have died over there, husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers. And to redeem lives already wasted, we waste more lives, about one hundred a week-- a "tolerable" level of death.
There is more to our thought. Our thoughts on the war force us to wonder, painfully, reluctantly, belatedly, in what other areas we march to the wrong drummer. It is a rude awakening. Some of us feel, for example, that the military system of justice places the officer in the position of a man sentenced to prison, who has time removed from his sentence for each condemned man that he hangs. Freedom at the priceless and unredeemable expense of others. If this be justice in the Armed Forces, playing hangman, we reject it.
For those who have made the sacrifice of going to Vietnam, this newsletter is sadly dedicated. For those who have made the sacrifice of going to jail, or of beginning a life anew in a foreign land, this newsletter is also sadly dedicated. In the future may such sacrifices not have to be made. For this we work and for this we are unafraid.
Concerned Officers Movement Newsletter, no. 4