This young soldier was sent to fight in the Vietnam war or rather the Second IndoChina War (September 26, 1959 – April 30, 1975). After refusing his orders, he was placed in a stockade when he gave an interview to the press.
Among his reasons for refusing his orders he said that he thought that the war in Vietnam was an American war of aggression. He thought that it was a racist and genocidal war. He doubted very much if America could bring equality and democracy to the yellow people of Vietnam, when it never brought equality and democracy to the black, brown, red and yellow [and white] people of America. He thought that before we begin to preach and leave our countries to spread the word, that we better clean up our mess at home…
This particular rendition of Rita Martinson’s “Soldier, We Love You” was recorded at the FTA Tour. The FTA Tour (“Free The Army”) was an anti-Vietnam War road show designed as a response to Bob Hope’s USO tour. It was first organised in April 1970 by activist Fred Gardner and actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland.
The FTA tour, visited military towns along the West Coast of the USA, with the goal of establishing a dialogue with soldiers about their upcoming deployments to Vietnam.
The resulting dialogue was turned into a film called F.T.A., directed by Francine Parker and released into theatres in 1972. Footage and discussion of the FTA Tour was included in the 2005 documentary film “Sir! No Sir!”.
“Sir! No Sir!”, is a documentary on the all-but-forgotten anti-war activities of G.I.’s from Fort Hood, Texas, USA to Saigon, Vietnam. The ‘G.I. Movement’, as it was then known, was composed of both veterans who had recently returned from Vietnam and active-duty soldiers. They fought for peace in ways big and small, from organising and leading anti-war protests to wearing peace signs instead of dog tags. By the early ‘70s, opposition to the Vietnam War within the military and amongst veterans had grown so widespread that no one could credibly claim that opposing the war meant opposing the troops. Veterans wanted an end to the war; their brothers in arms in Vietnam agreed.
I read that you took a stand, and refused to kill in Vietnam. You said no man was your enemy; What he’s fighting for is to be free.
Ghetto streets lead nowhere. Ghetto cries fill the air. Uncle Sam’s in Nam to loot and rob, and people starve at home cause there’s no jobs.
Oh ain’t it hard, to smile sometimes? I know it’s hard, to smile sometimes.
Soldier, we love you! Yeah, soldier we love you. Standing strong, ’cause it’s hard to do, what you know you must do. Cause it’s true, Yes, it’s true.
They locked you up in their stockades. Yeah, they locked you up ’cause they’re afraid, that you would rap and spread the word; But you can’t jail truth, it will be heard.
Oh, ain’t it hard, to smile sometimes? I know it’s hard, to smile sometimes.
Soldier, we love you! Yeah, soldier we love you. Standing strong, Yes, it’s hard to do, what you know you must do. Cause it’s true, Yes, it’s true.
Fight for peace in ways big and small
1970, 1972 … 1990, 1993… 2003, 2005, 2017 the story of anti-war protest will continue for as long as there will be wars…
To all soldiers out there we say: “Soldiers, We Love You! Break the chains of war. Turn your guns into plowshares and return home safely!”
Peace, Love, Unity
Image Credits: Reuters