My brother Rick was one of the heroes of the American war against Viet Nam—he helped to organize and articulate war resistance in his unit, refused to kill people or to be killed in pursuit of the rulers’ imperial dreams, and deserted the US Army, spending the next decade on the run and in active resistance to war and racism. Unlike folks like John McCain who committed war crimes every day, dropping bombs on civilians, ruining farmland and infrastructure and murdering farmers and workers from the air, Rick stood for peace and justice.
A few years ago a group of German radicals and peace activists created a huge depiction of a soldier in profile, running hard as his helmet and rifle are flying away from him, and called it The Monument to the Unknown Deserter. They displayed their monument from town to town and city to city all over the country. We need that kind of sentiment—that monument—here, now more than ever.
If Bowe Bergdahl went AWOL, becoming one of millions of deserters throughout history, we should embrace that action on his part. We should stand up visibly, noisily, and salute the courage not to fight.