Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Extra, Extra -- GIs Speak Out
For the first time in recent memory a GI Teach-In, SpeakOut, was held for GI's of Fort Knox, by GI's of Fort Knox, at the Cathrine Spalding Auditorium in Louisville.
The Teach-In was organized by a group of Fort Knox soldiers, with the aid of students from the Cleveland area. Keeping in mind that the military authorities might put the entire base on alert, as had been done on other posts, where GI rallies had been held, leafletting and prior publicity was held off to the last possible moment.
The Brass is really down on GI's getting together to express any kind of personal views on the Army and tries to stop the show of solidarity the demonstrations, rallies and teach-in's create. This kind of repression, used by the authorities is just another attempt by the brass to keep GI's from talking openly about their situation, there-by acting towards changing their lot, which most certainly would bring a vary large change in the way the Brass treats its own men.
On the afternoon of the Teach-In, the students came to the post and handed out leaflets. One by one the pairs of students were picked up by the MP's. The MP's hustled them into cars and down to the station.
For close to three hours the MP's detained the civilians. They kept asking them, "who sent you, why are you here, don't you know it's illegal to come on post to leaflet?" The MP's tried to harrass the students the way they do GI's, but the civilians gave them a run for their money. An MP Major insisted that they be necessary to comply with his order." The students after consulting with their lawyer agreed to comply, feeling that the main purpose of the day was to distribute leaflets, not to challenge the right of the authorities to interfere with basic freedoms, guaranteed by the Constitution.
And this brings up an interesting point. Fort Knox is an 'openpost'. Anyone can enter. But the Brass maintains it can exclude certain people at its discretion. The Constitution, guarantees the right to free speech, right to assemble, the right of petition. The Brass guarantees nothing and is being allowed to invent its own laws and regulation contrary to the Constitution. They may say they are doing it to preserve law and order on post, but actually they are reacting directly against GI's trying to better their lot.
Meanwhile on to the Teach-In, Speak-Out. There were four main speakers who conducted the Teach-In part of the meeting. Professor Sidney Peck, of Case Western `U' talked about the history of US involvment in Vietnam. He pointed out that our involvment was not an accident, but a very deliberate move, which has resulted in a bloody war. Professor Peck explained some of the political motives and objectives of both the US and the VC.
Andy Stapp, founder of the American Servicemens Union, spoke of his organization drives to supply a union for GI's, a union that offers them legal aid, bargining power, and the right to control their own lives.
Conrad Lynn an outsanding lawyer, who handles cases for GI's flew in from New York, and rapped on legal rights of GI's and recounted some legal manouvers that have insured justice to soldiers. He spoke of the grave problems GI's face at the hands of the UMCJ and what a constant struggle it was to obtain even the most basic rights for the soldier.
SP4 E-4 Bill Ruscoe, a Vietnam Veteran, since ETSed, talked about his time in Vietnam. His feelings were shared by many who were at the meeting, who also had been across the pond.
Then the Speak-Out began. This proved to be the highlight of the night. GI's got up and voiced their opinions about the Talk-In, and about their own personal feelings about the Army. The auditorium was filled with ideas. There were disagreements and agreements. One GI got up and told us of his experiences in Vietnam. He spoke movingly of his feelings towards the Vietnamese people and the guys he was with, and the ones that were killed. He expressed the confusion that many had about the War and voiced the opinion that so many had died, it just wouldn't be right to end the war by withdrawal.
His remarks were responded to by many in the group. The majority agrreed that the war should be ended and concurred with him as to the tragedy of the war in Vietnam.
The Speak-Out was the best part of the whole day. A day that started with leafleting, detention of the leafleters, and a thoughtful teach-in; an open speak-out. This meeting demonstrated that GI's can get together. They can push for their own freedoms, that they can get something done. This was the first, it won't be the last.
Fun Travel Adventure, Special insert in no. 6