Sir! No Sir!

The fact that so much of David Zieger's documentary about the GI anti-Vietnam War movement comes as news goes a long way toward proving an important point made by writer Jerry Lembcke late in the film: So many national memories about the Vietnam War era have been reconstructed that the antiwar movement's history has begun to disappear. Zieger's thoroughly...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The fact that so much of David Zieger's documentary about the GI anti-Vietnam War movement comes as news goes a long way toward proving an important point made by writer Jerry Lembcke late in the film: So many national memories about the Vietnam War era have been reconstructed that the antiwar movement's history has begun to disappear. Zieger's thoroughly researched film is a vital reminder that beginning in the mid-'60s, a few conscience-stricken military individuals — including dermatologist Dr. Howard Levy, sickened by cynical attempts to win Vietnamese "hearts and minds" through medical treatment, and Navy nurse Susan Schnall, who wore her uniform to a civilian antiwar demonstration — actively and openly voiced peace sentiments. Returning GIs spread the word about what went on in that country; activist coffeehouses sprang up in towns around Army bases, and underground GI newspapers found an international audience for their corrosive attacks on "Nixon's war." Zieger dusts off the names of groups like the Nine for Peace, soldiers who, in 1968, defied orders to deploy to Vietnam and chained themselves together in a Haight-Ashbury church, and the Presidio 27, inmates at the infamous military stockade who demonstrated after a young soldier was shot to death during an escape attempt. Issues of class and, particularly, race often came to the fore; black soldiers voiced growing discontent at fighting a white man's war in a faraway land, while others on riot duty at home balked at drawing weapons on their brothers and sisters in the convulsive wake of Martin Luther King's assassination. The penalties were severe: Many were court-martialed and sentenced to prison for mutiny. And while the government steadfastly maintained that there was no GI antiwar movement, stories of the soldiers who remained at odds with the war at home emerged even as the seemingly endless war dragged on. Zeiger assembles his history through the firsthand accounts of men and women who were there, illustrating their recollections with a fascinating array of material: clippings from the GI underground press, recordings from a disgruntled Army unit close to the Cambodian border where U.S. troops were officially not stationed, and snippets from the infamous FTA tour — an antiwar revue that toured Asia and starred the likes of Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda, who also lends her voice and perspective to this important and compassionate film.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The fact that so much of David Zieger's documentary about the GI anti-Vietnam War movement comes as news goes a long way toward proving an important point made by writer Jerry Lembcke late in the film: So many national memories about the Vietnam War era ha… (more)

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