Good Morning, Iraq 

Sir! a history lesson from Vietnam's antiwar GIs

As the war in Iraq stretches into its fourth year and the number of U.S. casualties continues to climb without a foreseeable end to U.S. presence in Iraq, stories of soldiers filing for conscientious objector status or fleeing to Canada daily make the media rounds, peace activist Cindy Sheehan spent her Fourth of July launching a hunger strike, and the comparison of U.S. military involvement in Iraq to its involvement in Vietnam has grown from a barely audible suggestion to a dull roar. For David Zieger, producer, director and writer of the Vietnam protest documentary Sir! No Sir!, it was the events of September 11, 2001, and the U.S. military's subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that made it possible for him to restart filming, which began in the early '90s. In an interview with Mother Jones magazine, Zieger describes his documentary of the antiwar movement within the military ranks as "a story that would have current resonance, something that would connect with what's going on today." And judging by Sir! No Sir!'s current national tour of art and indie film houses, Zieger's supposition was correct.

A conglomerate of archival footage and recent interviews, Sir! documents what its tag line describes as "the suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam." Though history almost exclusively credits thousands of civilian protesters and peace-movement supporters, a fierce antiwar movement gained strength among U.S. armed forces through underground press produced and distributed clandestinely on U.S. military installations worldwide. Perhaps the most well known of this soldier-produced antiwar literature was Fatigue Press out of Fort Hood, Texas. Located near the city of Killeen, soldiers from Fort Hood collected at a coffee shop called the Oleo Strut, which served as a base-away-from-base for antiwar active-duty Army personnel and was the workplace of a young college drop-out turned peace activist. That young activist was Zieger, and Sir! No Sir!, released more than 30 years after Zieger's four-year stint at Oleo Strut ended, is a comprehensive chronicle of the worldwide GI peace movement Zieger experienced firsthand during his four years in Killeen.

Juxtaposing period footage, such as film of AWOL soldiers incarcerated at San Francisco's infamous Presidio stockade, with recent interviews with the soldiers who were involved in initial acts of defiance, Sir! tells the story of events passed as witnessed by reels from both the past and present.

Brought to Boise by Veterans for Peace, a national organization committed to abolishing war, protecting vets, increasing awareness of the financial and emotional impacts of war, and counteracting the efforts of military recruiters in high schools, Sir! screens as a fundraiser for the local chapter. Boise VFP president Dwight Scarbrough first saw the film about a year ago and because of what he felt is the film's relevance to the current war in Iraq, he worked to make the Flicks a stop on the film's national tour.

"We build lots of monuments to fallen troops, which is fitting and honorable, but we don't seem to learn anything," says Scarbrough. Instead of using these monuments to collectively learn from our previously military forays, Scarbrough says, "they become monuments to our stupidity." For VFP, working to "wage peace" through actively reminding Americans of all the costs of war, Sir! is the ideal vehicle for encouraging current active-duty peace-minded soldiers to learn from the past, as VFP gives away 500 copies of the film to armed forces members who have served since the events that spurned the war in Iraq took place--September 11, 2001.

Visit www.sirnosir.com and www.veternasforpeace.org for info.

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