By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. February 1, 2009
Historian. WWII veteran. Author. Activist. GI resistance supporter.
I remember reading Howard Zinn’s "A People’s History of the United States" in 1989. At the time, I was a 20-year-old Marine artillery controller becoming disillusioned with what I was seeing stationed in Okinawa, the Philippines, and Korea. Reading “People’s History” was certainly an unknowing step I took towards later refusing to fight in Iraq in August 1990. It enabled me to see my individual actions as a part of something much larger—yes, even larger than the Marine Corps.
Within a matter of weeks in late 1990 and early 1991, nearly a hundred Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors pledged to refuse to fight—most eventually did time in stockades and brigs. Twice as many service members publicly spoke out against the Gulf War at anti-war protests and rallies—sometimes to dozens, sometimes to 200,000 people. However, unless you were there, or have read a recent edition of “People’s History”, you wouldn’t know any of that ever happened.
Professor Zinn never wavered in his support of the troops who refused to fight. Last year he shared:
“I would urge people to support Courage to Resist in whatever way they can. I can think of nothing more important in stopping the war in Iraq than for the soldiers themselves to refuse to fight. As a veteran myself I know how difficult it is to break out of the stranglehold the military has on one’s mind, and how much courage that takes. Those who make such a decision need all the support we can give them, and Courage to Resist does just that.”