They crossed the Potomac — some in wheelchairs or on crutches — to Arlington National Cemetery, where a former military chaplain led a funeral service for the war dead. They refused to stop sleeping on the Mall despite orders from the Supreme Court. The war they hoped to stop didn’t end until four years later, but its course and that of the nation was altered by their movement, many of whom are still fighting for change today.
There’s the just-passed 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, about which I managed to write exactly nothing and for which I now defer to Kelly Kennedy’s plangent memoir at The War Horse, which ends with Gulf War Syndrome but not before conveying so much more. There’s the 50th anniversary of “The Pentagon Papers,” as the New York Times tagged Daniel Ellsberg’s leak about U.S. misconduct in Southeast Asia. 50th anniversaries are particularly frequent, since 50 years ago the movement against the Vietnam war was at its height.
It’s more important than ever to remember and acknowledge the veterans who peacefully organized to tell truths only they knew.
This blog, like my book, doesn’t tend to dwell on the brave folk who completely avoided military jurisdiction — the thousands in CPS camps during World War Two, the literal millions who spent the Vietnam era in alternative-service jobs. All of whom are important and honored, but to include their stories would swamp an already-capaciousContinue reading “John Lewis was a conscientious objector to war. Did you know that?”
July 2020: As the book approaches publication WITHOUT an introduction, I decided to repost this from ten years ago, when it was still under the aegis of UC Press and Chelsea Manning was still imprisoned at Quantico. The book evolved as well, but the themes below whisper from between its pages. It’s been a long timeContinue reading “Notes toward an introduction”
Will be a full-fledged essay, but this morning on Twitter I wrote it as a poem. you a Boomer or GenX?” the young veteran asked me, and refused to believe at first when I said “a late Boomer.” I often say I’m a backwash Boomer, since I learned to read just as the 1960s wereContinue reading “My thank-you note to Dr Howard Levy”
The day before the Kent State anniversary, I heard NPR talking about that day. And I thought of some people they’d not interviewed: Vietnam veterans also seared by the shootings, and Phil Ochs singing “Who’s the Criminal Here?”
Those of you who follow me on social media know that The Book is finally headed for bookshelves this fall, as I Ain’t Marching Anymore: Dissenters, Deserters and Objectors in America’s Wars. And the list of important people who didn’t make it into the final draft is impossibly long–which could also be said for mostContinue reading “Outtake: the first GI organizer I ever met.”
today, almost exactly 45 years after a Marine Corps vet finally rocked the world, here it is. Now you know why I tried, and why my fantastic ex-colleague Judith Ehrlich followed her landmark CO movie with one about Ellsberg.
I wanted to give due here to one of the soldiers who turned that moment into a movement.