dog tags, love beads, fight back and peace!

Posted: October 16, 2014 in Fight Back, Fight war and war mongers, For your information, Real Food For Thought

The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service.  ~Albert Einstein

The poster below ended up on my facebook page when a friend liked this posting that her friend had posted. Well of course the orginial poster is not a friend of mine so I couldn’t comment over there but wanted to comment so I said, even if you don’t feel like writing a new piece and would rather paint a painting get to work and do it.  There was also some dribble about not treating those who came home from Vietnam right and that they deserved better. You know we try hard not to get upset over trashy pieces of garbage when we see some. One thing that this poster and the artist seems to forget is that many of those Vietnam Vets came home and traded their dog tags for love beads and some as I can attest to became rabid anti-war revolutionaries and anti-government, anti-boss men and women and many remain so today. Yes so we here will remember these Vietnam Vets. Our comrades who saw what was up and against the biggest scam ever fought back. No longer content to do the bidding in an unjust war and quite willing to stand up and be counted and say NO in anyway we all could.

Dog tags love beads 2

You know I live with a Vietnam Veteran who was there very early in the game. When he came home he joined the protest movements. He continues today. No I ain’t marching anymore. While in the army he was a part of the great rebellion of soldiers who fought the brass from inside. He drove the garbage truck and one night drove it right through the officers hootches. Wanted to kill them all. (1) Ended up in the brig and then was discharged soon afterwards. Other young men who were drafted either spent their time smoking grass, causing trouble and just trying to stay alive. His friend during those days was George from Detroit. Now the riots were happening all over the city and George said, “Man, I should be home with my people fighting the honky white folks not here killing folks who did nothing at all to me. George was discharged and sent home. Resistance was all over the place within the army during those days. Ah we all could tell many more stories about it all, some would indeed most likely expose us to prosecution and all would paint the picture about those days from a band of young rebellious men and women out to fight the good fight and to topple and transform all that stood in our way.You know before I really get going on this let’s have a song by my all time hero Phil Ochs. Of course the song is I ain’t Marching Anymore and tells it like it needs to be told.

So you ready? Let’s start with some facts that not all guys in the military loved their dog tags and Uncle Scam. Not all GI’s hated the love beads and those who called for peace. A great article is a good place to start. The article found on libcom.org is 1961-9\1973: GI Resistance in the Vietnam War begins this way:

“The U.S. government would be happy to see the history of the Vietnam War buried and forgotten. Not least because it saw the world’s greatest superpower defeated by a peasant army, but mainly because of what defeated the war effort – the collective resistance of the enlisted men and women in the U.S. armed forces, who mutinied, sabotaged, shirked, fragged and smoked their way to a full withdrawal and an end to the conflict.”

My partner was very much a part of this process and so weren’t the guys he hung out with and today he remains very anti war, anti-government and anti boss. The more we read and the more we will come to the conclusion that these brave young men are the men to celebrate, love beads and all.

Once you have seen, you can’t unsee.

 Some of us resisted before we went in, resisted in the induction center, took off to Canada, or were jailed as conscientious objectors. We didn’t need to learn to kill or be killed to know that this war, and perhaps for some all war was wrong and we were not going to join as poor folks fighting in a rich man’s war. I can only say thank our lucky stars that so many took this position. Now I am not praising the rich kids or the middle class kids who where liberals of convenience who had enough to hide out or to get deferments. So many of this countries right wingers today invaded the draft and sat out the war and surprisingly  many of them took on prominent positions in americkkka. In our notes are a listing of these folks (2) Yes it is one thing to stay home in opposition to war and work to end war and its another thing to stay home and beat the war drum and send everyone’s children to fight for your fat ass. Read the list of the draft dodgers of the Vietnam Generation. I know that none of my rebel friends who fought the brass, or who stayed home for whatever reason voted to send your brothers or sisters to war or profited on war in any form. Not one of them today would ever stand in support of war from their armchair and not one of them would be a traitor to the cause and send the young to fight in endless wars as is the case with Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

“As American presence reached major proportions in 1964 and 1965, people joining the military were predominantly poor working class whites or from ethnic minorities. University attendance and draft resistance saved many better-off young white people from the draft, and many other less privileged workers signed up in order to avoid a prison term, or simply due to the promises of a secure job and specialist training. The image these young people had of life in the military was shattered quite rapidly by the harsh reality they faced.” (3 )

The rebellion of enlisted men grew and we read this about what was happening in 1970 again from the article posted in libcom.org.

“By 1970, the U.S. Army had 65,643 deserters, roughly the equivalent of four infantry divisions. In an article published in the Armed Forces Journal (June 7, 1971), Marine Colonel Robert D. Heinl Jr., a veteran combat commander with over 27 years experience in the Marines, and the author of Soldiers Of The Sea, a definitive history of the Marine Corps, wrote:

“By every conceivable indicator, our army that remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non-commissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous. Elsewhere than Vietnam, the situation is nearly as serious… Sedition, coupled with disaffection from within the ranks, and externally fomented with an audacity and intensity previously inconceivable, infest the Armed Services…”

and we all sang, If you love your Uncle Sam, bring ’em home

An excellent source of information on Soldiers in opposition to the Vietnam War is David Coltright’s book Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War.

Mr. Coltright has this to say:

“Opposition to conscription pervaded every strata of society: 206,000 never reported for the draft. From 1970 to the end of 1972 – the draft ended in early 1973 – 145,000 successfully applied for Conscientious Objector status.

Soldiers who had enlisted or been drafted began deserting in increasing numbers after 1967. As the US involvement in the war grew, from 1966 to 1971, so did Army desertion rates. During this time, they increased from 14.9 to 73.5 per thousand.”

Where were you when? 

Back in the day here in Connecticut I was part of a draft counseling group whose main head quarters was a farm house down in Volentown. Bob and Marjorie Swan ran the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (NECNVA) and did draft counseling along with other types of peace work. We were connected to the Swans by a friend of our art teacher who was a Quaker that had lived through the holocaust. We began weekly treks to Volentown bringing with us other young men who were questioning what their role would be and what action they were to take if old Uncle Sam sent a letter to their mailbox. Many of us were poor and working class with no chance to hide out with a deferment in a college. It was real for us and it was terrifying.

We all have a choice to kill or not. We all have responsibility and part of that responsibility is to help end war. A song we heard way back in the day most likely on Buffy Sainte Marie’s first album, Its My Way in 1964 opened up so many doors for us in our thinking about war. It was early on and as Buffy says in her introduction the politicians didn’t want us to know that there was a war going on. Buffy Sainte Marie wrote this song in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in 1963 after witnessing wounded soldiers returning from Vietnam. She has described the song as being “About individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.”

Well we knew it, we knew there was a war going on. We heard about it from anti-war GIs who came home early in the game. We heard it from the likes of Barbara Deming and A.J Muste, from Dorthy Day, Marjorie and Bob Swan, David McReynolds and when demonstrations were called for in October of 1965 we joined and marched down 5th Ave.  We were proud to be marching that day with a thousands of others. Taking our responsibility to the streets standing up and marching feet to testify against war and against all that promoted war. We could never ignore the message of Universal Soldier that continues to speak through out time.

“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe. ” ~ Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire

Let’s end this article with a very haunting song. This was from a testimony that Lisa Kalvelage gave at her trial after being arrested for blocking the loading of bombs containing napalm on a ship that was to head to Vietnam. Ms. Kalvelage and 3 other women were arrested on that day. Pete Seeger put Ms. Kalvelage’s testimony to music. This video has an introduction by the niece of Ms. Kalvelage and is in a performance at the Joint Effort Coffeehouse in San Antonio Texas in a tribute to Pete Seeger. That is what is important, putting that small balanced weight on the other side, that weight for peace and justice.

NOTES

( 1 ) We read this from Soldiers In Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War. “Deadly assaults against the officer corps gained the most notoriety. Between January 1969 and December 1971 the Pentagon recorded 520 intra-personnel attacks with explosive devices in Vietnam, one almost every other day. These “ fraggings” mostly involved attacks on officers and resulted in 85 deaths.”

(2) Staying Home And Beating The War Drum

Some notable draft dodgers of our generation who didn’t seem to mind sending others to war were, George Walker Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, John Tower, Dick Armey, Newt Ginfrich, Ralph Reed, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, George Will, Dan Quayle, Karl Rove and Pat Buchanan.

1. See America’s artful dodgers: Loyal Servants who did not serve in Vietnam.

2. For a full listing see: Who Served In The Military.

(3) 1961-9973: GI Resistance in the Vietnam War, libcom.org, posted by Stephen 9/3/2006 is an excellent article that everyone should read.

This blog published, Our Military, our patriotism, our flag, our support for GI’s. Just another tool of the ruling class? was published on December 31. 2011 and is an interesting read. Check it out.

Check out this article: Vietnam was even more horrific than we thought by Jonathan Schelli. In this article we read:

Nick Turse’s new book “Kill Anything that Moves” reveals that massacres like My Lai were downright common.

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