Friday, July 27, 2007

Review: David Zeiger, Sir, No, Sir (video)

This documentary is a necessary corrective to the widely held perception that the Vietnam anti-war movement was anti-soldier. In fact, a key component of the anti-war movement was the soldiers. As early as 1965, highly decorated "lifers", who joined the armed services convinced they were doing their duty to their country, began speaking out against the war, refusing orders, and faced court-martials to stop the war in Vietnam. As one former Green Beret said, "I was doing my job right, but I wasn't doing right." By 1969 war resistance among GIs, which had started as individual acts of defiance spread among draftees "in country" and among vets returning home, and emerged as a crucial component of the anti-war movement. So much so that even the US military had to concede that the majority of US troops were anti-war.

Sir, No, Sir is a very well done documentary that weaves together interviews, news footage, and commentary about the "forgotten" anti-war movement--the GI coffee house movement, the underground GI press, and the "alternative" USO-style shows that featured an anti-war message that was tailored to the soldiers' expereince. It closes with some parting shots on how the GI anti-war movement was "erased" from popular memory through films like Hamburger Hill and Rambo--which situate the anti-war movement as being anti-soldier.

The extras on the DVD are also quite interesting. Of particular interest is the interview with the infamous "Dave Rabbitt." Years ago, I received a copy of a recording of a "pirate" radio station in Vietnam and had often wondered about its authenticity. This film confirmed that briefly an unofficial radio station (Radio First Termer-FM69), which was "for the troops" but against the war, operated in the Phan Rang area of Vietnam. It broadcast "hard acid-rock music" for the "first-termers and non-reenlistees" in Vietnam. An interesting story in and of itself, and just one part

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