Soldiers Led Peace Movement, Film Says

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(APN) ATLANTA – US soldiers led the Antiwar movement which brought an end the Viet Nam War, the movie “Sir! No Sir!” has shown.

Atlanta Progressive News was on hand as over 300 people packed the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta last week, with some standing in the back, for the opening night of “Sir! No Sir!”

Many veterans and peace activists were in the audience and the crowd gave a standing ovation as the credits rolled and film maker David Zeiger, Jane Fonda, and Halim Gullahbemi took the stage for question and answer session.

Fonda was apparently overwhelmed by the response and said “Wow, if I’d known there would be a theater full of people like you I would have moved to Georgia a lot sooner.”

She then called on two young veterans of the US Invasion of Iraq to join them on stage-this brought another standing ovation from the crowd.

Fonda responded to questions about her role in the peace movement and the toll it took on her.

About the “very deliberate attempts over the decades to tell lies about me… They said I turned over names of POWs to the Viet Cong, and they were then tortured and killed.” This is not true, and ”they are still alive,” she said.

David Zeiger said it was not difficult to get Fonda involved in making the film. “She instantly wanted to be part of it. She was writing her book when I interviewed her, and she was very interested in telling her story.”

Zieger had no difficulty getting the GI’s to take part in the film either. “It took effort to find them.” They were “not reluctant to tell their stories-just the opposite-they were anxious to tell them.”

“It is a story I was part of, I knew it well, and knew it was deeply buried, and with the war in Iraq it was relevant again and it seemed necessary to correct history,” Zeiger told Atlanta Progressive News in a personal interview before the night of the opening.

David began writing for the film “at about the start of the Iraq war, and it took another 3 to 4 months to get the first money for funding the film.”

“All the initial money came from international TV, France, Germany, Finland, even Great Britain. U.S. broadcasters weren’t interested, thought there was nothing new about Viet Nam. No money came from inside the US until the premiere at the International Film Festival in L.A. in June 2005,” Zeiger said.

The film tells the stories that were erased from public memory.

For instance, there were many underground newspapers written and printed by GIs.

Many refused to fight, like Halim, who demonstrated with others in August of 1968 against going to Chicago for riot control at the Democratic National Convention, considering it an act of genocide against his own people.

It also brings to light some myths that were created, during the Reagan administration when much of Viet Nam War history was rewritten.

One is the myth of the hippie spitting on the soldier returning from Viet Nam.

It never happened-it was “a right wing construct from the start to brand any opposition to war as being against the troops. It also created the non-issue of who supports the troops, taking the focus away from the real issue of whether the war is right or wrong,” Zeiger said.

Zeiger wants “the film to put the reality of the revolt of the American soldier in Viet Nam in center stage. What people do with it is up to them to decide.”

“Jane Fonda deserved a standing ovation. What an incredible story is told by that love she has for her nation and the film that has now told the true story, not only of the Viet Nam War and our removal from it, but of the revisionist history we have lived with since that time,” Elizabeth Hinesley of Cornelia, Georgia, told Atlanta Progressive News.

“The Viet Nam war was pretty significant in my life because my Dad did four tours in Viet Nam doing river patrol when I was pretty young. I knew what was happening was wrong, and wondered why my Dad didn’t fight it too. He was very gentle and kind, I can’t imagine him killing. The film made me less conflicted about my Dad-he was older and had four kids he was career navy. I loved the movie and hope everyone sees it, and that those DVDs make it to those kids fighting in Iraq,” Gretchen Stamps, from Duluth, Georgia, said.

“If they see this film it might click that the same thing is happening now in Iraq. They [the US government] don’t want us to see any parallels between Viet Nam war and Iraq, but I do see it, the similarities. It was a very moving thing for me to see-it helped me, but made me sad, and angry that this government has done the same thing again,” Stamps said.DVDs are available for free to all active duty military at the website, http://www.sirnosir.com

About the author:

Susan Keith is a Staff Writer Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at susan@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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