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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Oct. 12, 1968, Marked A New Stage In The Developing Movement Of GIs Against The War In Vietnam.
Oct. 12.1968. marked a new stage in the developing movement of GIs against the war in Vietnam. The five hundred Gls who marched in San Francisco on that day reflected a mass sentiment among GIs throughout the world that the Vietnam war was wrong and should be ended and every GI brought home.
The GI-led Oct. 26-Nov. 5 demonstrations that then took place nationally and internationally made concrete the fact that GIs will not remain silent. Boston, Atlanta. New York. Chicago. Philadelphia. Los Angeles. Ft. Hood. Ft. Dix. Ft. Jackson. Ft. Benning are only a few of the areas and bases where civilian-supported GI actions in opposition to the war have taken place.
In Korea the first international expression of antiwar sentiment was verified when 35 GIs. (led by organizers of the Sam Francisco Oct. 12 March who had been transferred because of their roles in building that march) protested the war in solidarity with the San Francisco March.
Another example of the depth of opposition to the war in the military has been the growth of underground GI newspapers that have been spring up on bases around the country. FTA (Ft.Knox).Flag in Action (Ft. Campbell Fatigue Press (Ft. Hood). Last Harass (Ft. Gordon), Short Times (Ft. Jackson), Logistic (Ft. Sheridan); Ultimate Weapon (Ft. Dix). Underground Oak (Oaknoll Naval), Ally (Berkeley), Vietnam GI (Chicago). Bond (New York), Task Force (San Francisco) are just a few. These GI newspapers have spoken out loud and clear not only on the question of the Vietnam war, but also on the general question of GI rights. They have given GIs a way of expressing themselves and, most important, have placed on their bases poles of attraction around which GIs can loosely organize (in opposition to the brass orientation sessions and such lifer rags as Stars and Stripes).
It should be pointed out that during the last several months, illusions existed among many of the American people that somehow the war in Vietnam was coming to an end. In March the United States sat down to begin negotiations with the Vietnamese. The press and the administration projected an early end to the war. One candidate after another entered the scene--each one for peace. Nixon developed a scheme for ending the war (immediatety after he was elected. of course). By all appearances it seemed there was a real peace offensive being conducted by the United States. Consequently. mass antiwar actions grew smaller. and less and less discussion about the war took place. It was at the height of this period, after Nixon had been elected president. and many Americans were confident he would end the war. or were at least taking a wait- and-see attitude. that the Christmas GI-Civilian Conference was called.
Task Force was one of the initiators of that conference. We knew that conference wouldn't be huge. because even people in antiwar organizations Both civilians and even some GIs) had been fooled by the politicians' playing games with the war. It was the responsibility of those in the antiwar movement who recognized the game being played with the American people and the lives of GIs to keep up the pressure. to continue to convince people that the war was wrong. that they were being fooled. and to project actions to keep the movement alive.
As it turned out the conference was very broadly sponsored. Almost every leading figure and group in the civilian antiwar movement as well as almost every GI organization and newspaper endorsed the conference. The conference itself was attended by over 300 civilians and 25 GIs, which we considered to be a big success. It was this conference that issued the call for antiwar actions on Easter weekend.
There are few groups who aren’t supporting the April 6 actions and are raising doubt about the actions validity. They think GIs will be victimized if they appear on the street.
We think these groups are wrong. Before the Oct. 12 March here in San Francisco. there were quite a few people who thought every GI demonstrating on that day would be arrested. It didn't happen. What all the demonstrations have proved is that GIs were smart enough to do everything legally. We get police permits; we don't turn the sound equipment up too high; we follow the military's own rules. like AR 600-20. which allows GIs to demonstrate out of uniform. etc. All we do is use our constitutional rights. We have all the rights of other Americans. even if we sometimes have to hassle for them. We atso have the support of civilians; let's face it. if we walked down the street alone. Oct. 12 not only would we have had real problems. but most guys wouldn't have showed up. But that's where we're at right now. We're part of an antiwar movement that encompasses the majority of the American peopIe. and when you boil everything down. that's our best protection from victimization by the brass.
We are now at the stage where it is becoming clearer to the American people that the Paris talks have disguised a U.S. escalation of the war. Over 9.000 GIs have been killed since the talks began. The tonnage of bombs being dropped on South Vietnam to- day far exceeds that drop ped on both North and South Vietnam before the Paris talks. President Nixon and Melvin Laird have all but shouted thaty there can be no troop cutbacks in the forseeable future.
The initiative that GIs have taken in the last year will now be complimented by a mass civilian protest of the war. In February Seattle had the largest antiwar demonstration in the city’s history as 300 GIs and 4,500 civilians demonstrated against the war in Vietnam.
We call on the few groups who have been hesitant, both GI and civilian, to help build the GI-Civilian Peace Marches into the biggest antiwar demonstrations this country has yet had.
Task Force , no. 4