“If they didn’t want to follow orders, they shouldn’t have signed up” Really?

October 25, 2003

October 25, 2003


Mr. Rob Port,

Quoting you, “We have an all-volunteer military. The people who have signed up to serve did so knowing that they were obligating themselves to obey the orders of their superior officers and the commander-in-chief.”

“If they didn’t want to follow orders, they shouldn’t have signed up”

Illegal orders, immoral orders. Are we suppose to follow just any order?

Your views on soldiers’ choices simply show what you think about us or if you are prior service about yourself. Soldiers’ willingness to put their minds and bodies at risk for country is not a license for the government or the people to use us as if we are tools to be thrown away once worn out.

There is a pact that the soldier will not be abused or used for frivolous reasons. The soldier is not to be sent to do anything immoral or illegal. They are not to be used for selfish reasons or to further ambition. And we are to be forgiven for our sins of killing, maiming, and the full spectrum of violence and mayhem we will commit and or enable others to commit. In exchange soldiers are willing to put it all on the line. If anyone of these responsibilities to the soldier is broken by the government or people, soldiers have no obligation to continue to soldier.

When I was in the military, before the end of apartheid in South Africa; I decided if the U.S. tried to send me there to “protect’ the ruling government, I was not going to go. Fortunately I never had to make the real life decision. Yes I was a volunteer. I volunteered to defend the U.S. and you, not to protect a racists government and its policies. My oath was/is to the Constitution.

This business that these volunteer soldiers know what they are signing up for and getting into is a load of crap. Most people and especially young kids know the video games and movies we show them. They know nothing about real life war.

A soldier’s job is to destroy people and material. I believe the soldier has the right to change his or her mind about killing. We have to live with our actions. That is why so many of us are committing suicide, because it is hard to kill people and see people killed and live with ourselves afterwards. If a person decides in mid-stream they don’t want to do that anymore then I salute them for making that hard decision.

We humans have one life. There is really nothing more profound that taking a human life. If a person comes to the conclusion that they do not want to participate in the taking of human life, they have the moral and God given right to make that choice. Reality dictates that there will be consequences, but no one has the moral high ground to judge. That is only for God to decide. And if there is not a God, the soldier has the last word.

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About Michael T. McPhearson

Currently Michael is executive director of Veterans For Peace and co-chair of the Don't Shoot Coalition, A Saint Louis based coalition that formed in the aftermath of Michael Brown's police killing death in Ferguson, MO. From August 2010 to September 2013, Michael worked as the National Coordinator with United For Peace and Justice. He is a former board member of Veterans For Peace and as well as Executive Director from 2005 to 2010. He works closely with the Newark based People’s Organization for Progress and the Saint Louis centered Organization for Black Struggle. Michel also publishes the Mcphearsonreport.org expressing his views on war and peace, politics, human rights, race and other things. Michael also launched Reclaimthedream.org website as an effort to change the discourse and ignite a new conversation about Dr. Martin Luther King’s message and what it means to live in just and peaceful communities.