By Steve Crandall March 13, 2016
By 1970 troop unrest in Vietnam had grown to an all-time high. Peace signs were openly displaced and the military establishment was trying to figure out what to do about it. The unrest made it easy for just a few of us to start a revolution that would grow to encompass many more. But would there be a cost to our revolution?
Unrest was also high back home. The American population was so weary about the war in Vietnam that even Democrats bought into Nixon’s lies when he announced that the Vietnam War was coming to an end and his program to end the war was working. Then on May 4th, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on killing four and wounding nine Kent State students protesting the war. The shooting not only jolted the stateside population it also shocked many of us in Vietnam. You see, back then joining the National Guard was one way to almost assuredly escape having to fight in Vietnam. Some of us had been college students prior to joining the military so when we heard that the Guard had opened fire on student protestors we just couldn’t understand and we quickly labeled them as the establishment chickens.
I hated being in Vietnam more than ever but I didn’t think there was a way out so I continued to load bombs, rockets and ammo while I turned my emotional anger towards the military. It helped me to direct my anger by labeling the military as the “establishment”. Our weapons loading crew was one of the fastest crews in the Squadron but we were considered by the “establishment” to have a rebellious attitude. The authority cracked down on us by braking up our crew and assigned each of us to other crews but this tactic only helped us to spread our revolution. We used the establishment’s playbook against them by following the check list word by word. The check list was written under the direction of the Secretary of the Air Force so we challenged Officers who pushed us to deviate from it even though we had deviated from it in the past to get the planes loaded and off the ground to their strike zone. Even the aircraft maintenance crews joined our revolution by grounding aircraft that were missing parts and should not be flying but were often flown anyway.
Missions were being missed and within a few days of the start of our revolution a four star General’s staff car was seen in front of the Headquarters building. The military “establishment” was feeling the heat and the following day a meeting of all personnel was called to order. We were told we could resume our duties as before, there would not be any retribution and all that is asked of us was to be safe. We saw this as a win for our freedom (as much freedom you can get in the military) to express our dismay with the war. I never heard if any of the missed missions resulted in the death of American soldiers who were in need of air support. Would I do it again if I knew lives lost had been lost due to our stand on principles? The answer is NO!
My story and direct experience about standing on principle brings me to question Bernie supporters who say they are willing to stand on principle and not vote for Hillary in the general election if she is the nominee. They say a loss to the Republicans will teach the Democrats a lesson. Some will probably say that it’s not like taking a stand in Vietnam where there were life or death situations but if that’s what they are thinking they are dead wrong.
Just think about a Trump or Cruz presidency for a minute and then consider what it would be like to roll back time prior to Roosevelt’s New Deal because that is what they want to do. They want to abolish or cut back more than 100 government programs and departments like the Department of Education, the EPA, the US Postal Service, the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the EDA, Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities and HUD just to name a few. They want to privatize the VA and the Social Security System. They want to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and Obamacare as well as all of President Obama’s executive orders. They want to eliminate or restrict the rights of organizations like Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ and many others that don’t fit their so called American view. They want to round up and deport 11 million immigrants. They are more interested in saving money than the lives of residents of Flint, MI or any other city that suffers from the lack of critical infrastructure upgrades. They want to control the decisions made by the Supreme Court by appointing right wing conservative judges. How about loss of religious freedom, not theirs but yours, for those who aren’t Christian. The abolishment or cut backs in any number of these programs can result in poor health, financial loss and even death to those that depend on them.
Is standing on principle so important that you are willing to see any one of these or all of these programs go down in defeat just to make a point?