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Destroying the Last Bastion of Honor

by Gary Aldrich - Volume 1 Issue 7

Recently, I met with three individuals who have become deeply involved in the government’s program to inoculate the entire population of 2.4 million members of the United States Armed Forces. The meeting included two former senior military officers -- one retired and one still a member of the reserve forces -- and the wife of Major Sonnie Bates, the Air Force pilot who -- at that point -- faced a court martial for his refusal to take the controversial series of anthrax shots.

This was an entirely new issue for me, as it is for the vast majority of Americans who have not been allowed to hear both sides of the story. My general impression of these three was that they were well educated, articulate and passionate in their belief that our national leadership has made a serious error which will result in great harm not only to our national defense, but also to the citizen-soldiers themselves.

Throughout our history as a nation, it has been the concept of the citizen-soldier, which has always set the American soldier apart from the soldiers of other nations. American Marines stormed the Island of Iwo Jima, not simply because they were ordered to, but because they wanted to. In their hearts, they knew that the ultimate sacrifice they might be making was worth it because what they were doing was right.

As Americans, we assume that our service members are more than robots. We trust our military leaders to act in our best interest whatever the challenge of the moment. However, this implies that the chain of command is as united in its support for the troops as it is in its loyalty to superiors. Unfortunately, the past seven years under the politically self-serving Clinton administration has produced a deterioration in authority and morale which has permeated through all levels of the military.

Eventually, every officer and NCO faces the choice of following an order he believes in his heart to be wrong -- or suffering the consequences. Often it is a very lonely decision. Such was the case with Major Bates, who, after reviewing all of the evidence available to him decided he must refuse the shot until his side of the story was heard. All he asked for was justice, but it was not to be found in the Clinton-era military.

It is not that this is the first time American citizen-soldiers have sacrificed their careers for principle. Indeed, Major Bates appears to be cut from the same bolt of red, white and blue cloth that inspired another pilot, Billy Mitchell, in the days before World War II.

Perhaps the writers of our Constitution will have the final say. It appears that the US Congress, in the form of the House Committee on Government Reform, may act to defend our citizen-soldiers by calling for the suspension of further inoculations until the complete safety of our military members can be guaranteed. However, it cannot stop there. To protect our men and women in uniform from similar mistreatment in years to come, legislation must be passed to prohibit ever using the military for medical experimentation, especially without the consent of the military member.

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