Library - Reading Room
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
An FTA Birthday
A year's gone by since our our first issue. Its been an important year in which we've grown in size (staff & circulation) and in understanding what we are about. Its been a year in which many things have happened. Leafing back through old issues we see the birth and development of the GI movement. The growth of GI papers, across the country, the 43 Black GIs at Ft Hood who refused to be used to put down our brothers in Chicago, the 27 guys at the Presido who protested stockade conditions, the guys at Ft Jackson who took their ights into their own hands and held a mass meeting about the Army and the war. The stockade rebellions in Vietnam and state side that are forcing condition changes in Army jails, and all the individuals who stood up and fought back.
FTA was one of the first under ground base papers. When we were just a few GIs and we were scared. We didn't know how other guys would take it, or what the Brass would try to do. We weren't sure if we could keep the paper going or if we could stay out of the stockade long enough to get the second issue out. But most of all we were unsure of what we were doing and how to go about it.
The group of us who started the paper were angry about what the Army was doing--the stupidity of haircuts, the long hours of KP,the constant harassment, the utter lack of usual rights and the total disrespect for us as human beings. We also knew the war was crap--that it wasn't being fought to save the Vietnamese or to protect America. We saw clearly that it was the rulers of our country--the big businessmen--using us to maintain their control of another country. But that wasn't all, we also knew that all wasn't right in America. We were aware that 35 million of our people lived in poverty , and that 22 million of our Black brothers and sisters were kept on the bottom--used and abused as the white power structure saw fit--and put down brutally if they objected. Some of us had worked before we came in so we knew that long hours and overtime was the only way to have some extra spending money. We wanted a decent life when we got out--something we knew wasn't waiting for us. A Job that meant something, not just selling 40-50 hours a week to the highest bidder. We wanted a decent living, not one taxed away to nothing because of a war that was making someone else rich.
But the thing of it was, we were in the Army. What could we do? Wait two or three years? We were tired of wasting time, tired of waiting for things to get better and knowing they never would. So we decided to try and stop some of the stuff that was coming down, see what we could do to change things.
That was the first motivating force behind our paper. We figured we could use it to fight back--pressure the army to give us a little room to breathe. At the same time we figured we could meet alot of other guys out there who felt the same way--guys who were willing to fight back. And finally we figured there were some guys around who needed their cages rattled, guys who had settled down and accepted all the crap the Army and the Big Boys put out. We wanted to start people thinking. Well we had some success. We met a lot of guys that dug what we were doing and we started alot of others talking. But the only response we got from the Brass was more harassment. We won a few small skirmishes--the Brass stopped taking a guys copies if he complained. We filed suit against them (it will take years to be decided) to allow on base distribution. We beat a few Article 15s and made a few lifers feel uncomfortable when we pointed out their bullshit. But most of all we kept the paper going and growing right under their noses.
Well, what has this year taught us? First, we realized that our paper wasn't covering enough. We forgot that more than just the Army effects the GI. The outside world doesn't stop when you're in. so we are going to expand our coverage, increase our circulation and come out more often.
Second, we learned that we weren't going to get anywhere with just a paper. Asking the Army for something is worthless. You only get what you force them to give. So goal number one for the future is to start building an organization of GIs who can do what has to be done. GIs make the Army move, nothing else!!!! We make up Army and our folks pay for it. So it should serve our peoples needs--not just the few people who own and run the country. We can make that happen!!! We fight the War and we can stop that war. We are used to stop our own people when they start pushing, but we can also help push. The only way people have any rights is if they have power and the only power they have now is their numbers That is the concept of a Peoples Army an Army that serves its people, all of them, not just a few. An Army that defends its people, not one that goes 12,000 miles to put others down. An Army that is made up of the people and is for the people and is treated with respect and decency.
Fun Travel Adventure, no. 7