Fathers’ Day, 2008, Matthis Chiroux makes a public refusal of his orders to reactivate and deploy in support of the Iraq occupation.In this video Matthis addresses the media with his father and his brothers in Iraq Veterans Against the War standing by his side. You see Matthis has completed his required enlistment of five years but the Army wants him back so they can send him to Iraq. His patriotism tells him that he must resist and refuse this deployment publicly.
The text of his speech:
We gather here this Father’s Day on a very somber note.
The American occupation of Iraq, an illegal, immoral war which is ripping this nation apart, as well causing immeasurable harm to the Iraqi people and the people of the world alike.
We gather in remembrance of the sacrifice of many whose Fathers’ weep on this joyous day, for they know their own flesh and blood has been torn and siphoned from them for what we collectively hope will be this last blunder of American military might.
We gather here in hope that our fathers will forgive us for the wrongs we’ve perpetrated on our bodies, hearts and minds alike in this cruel decade of disaster, which stems from the very city in which we stand.
This Father’s Day, we gather here to calm the Vicious and the Vengeful alike.
The first time I came to Washington D.C. was less than one month before I shipped out to basic training. I was so moved by this country and it’s history, that it reinvigorated my belief in the righteousness of what I was doingjoining the Army in search of not only personal progress, but to participate in efforts to bring justice to the individuals responsible for 9-11.
I remember standing at the base of the Washington Monumentand watching the fireworks explode in the sky that 4th of July and wondering how was it that we could have come under attack on American soil, and believing firmly that I would be participating in dealing justice for Sept. 11th.
I remember standing before the Lincoln Memorial and feeling the presence of not just the former president and emancipator, but of Martin Luther King and his dream for a brighter and more united future for the children of this nation.
That young me could not have known where he’d be standing almost six years later and what he would have to be sayingthis Father’s Day.
I am Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, and tonight at midnight, I may face further action from the Army for refusing to reactivate to participate in the Iraq Occupation.
This fact hangs heavy on my heart as I look back at my five years of service in uniform, but I understand that what I am doing is in keeping with the values I shared with my friends-in-arms while we wondered if things could really get any worse.
Today I stand in resistance to the occupation of Iraq because I believe in our nation, its military and her people. I resist because I swore an oath to this nation that I would not allow it to fall into decay when I may be serving on the side of right.
And my country is in Decay, and in these times of crisis, as Thomas Paine once said, the summer Soldier and Sunshine Patriot will flee from service to our nation.
I stand here today, as a Winter Soldier, to serve our nation, its military and its people in this dark time of confusion and corruption. I stand here to make it known that my duty, as a Soldier, is first to the higher ideals and guiding principles of this country, which our leaders have failed to uphold.
I stand here today in defense of the U.S. Constitution, which has known no greater enemy, foreign or domestic, than those highest in this land who are sworn to be governed by its word.
I stand here today in defense of those who have been stripped their voices in this occupation, for the warriors of this nation have been silenced to the people who need to start listening.
We are here to honor the memory of our fathers, who more than two centuries ago brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, as Abraham Lincoln once noted.
We are here to honor the struggle of our fathers and their fathers, and their fathers before them to build this nation and bring it together, through slavery and poverty to sexism and racism to materialism and imperialism. They built this nation and struggled to keep it alive as we’ve blundered and learned and blundered again.
We owe it to our fathers to stand for this nation now, when a dark cloud has descended upon it in the form of an administration who is stealing the lives of us all to wage an illegal war, conceived in lies, and birthed of manipulation.
As a Soldier, I was told it was not my place to question the orders of those appointed above me. I had that lie trained into me from my first day of basic training to my last day of active duty.
But I have learned the truth. The truth that the occupation of Iraq is inherently illegal, and that it is my duty as a Soldier to refuse illegal orders to reactivate and deploy in support of it.
I have learned that in times of crisis, one must look deep into their own values to know the path they must walk.
I have learned that feeling, and thinking, and speaking and acting in keeping with courage and honesty and preservation of a righteous cause is blessed and may give a person strength to utter truthsthat may calmthe vicious and the vengeful alike.
I believe that this nation and its military may come to know the same truth, that the rule of law has been forsaken, and we must return to it or be doomed to continued disaster.
I believe in the goodness of the American people, and I believe that justice is not dead.
Because we as a people believe that as a people living in the United States it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government in our names.
We know this truth to be self-evident, that our nation can unite to oppose an illegal occupation which is killing and scarring and shattering the lives of our youth and the Iraqi people.
On this Father’s Day, know America that your children need you. We need you to care for us and to care for our country, which we will inherit when you are finished with her.
We need you to end this occupation of Iraq, which has destroyed a country and scattered its people to the winds like ashes in a tempest, a tempest that has engulfed the nation of Iraq and scrubbed any sign of peace and prosperity from the surface of a civilization older than history itself.
Fathers, we need you to care for your children and the children of Iraq, for they know not why you fight and carry no fault in the conflict.
Fathers, your sons and daughters need you now to embrace peace, for though we were attacked, we have dealt in retaliation that same suffering one thousand times over to a people who never wronged us.
This nation will know little healing until we first stem off the flow of blood and human life, for justice and healing will never be done by a blade, or a bullet, or a bomb or a torture cell.
By continuing to participate in the unjust occupation of Iraq, we as servicemembers are contributing to that flow of human life, and we can not now nor could we ever call the Iraqi people an enemy in the fight against the use of terror.
But terror is all we know now. We are terrified by the prospect that we have been lied to. We are terrified by the idea that we have killed for nothing. We are terrified to break the silence. We are terrified to do what we know is right.
But never again will I allow terror to silence me, nor will I allow it to govern my actions.
I refuse terror as a tactic for uniting a people around an unjust cause. I refuse to allow terror to motivate me to do violence on my fellow man, especially those who never wronged me in the first place.
I refuse to be terrified to stand in defense of my constitution, and I refuse to be terrified of doing so in the face of great adversity.
As a resister to the Iraq occupation, I refuse to be terrified by what may come, for I know those who stand against me are in terror of the truth.
But I will speak my truthand I will stand firmly by itand forever will my soul know peace.