seven o’clock in the morning, already bright sunshine as Clu and I and
the others were in her yard ready to drive down to Fort Clay for Will’s
court martial. The seven Vanguarders were there and about ten Committee
people. Five of these Committee people also came to Organization meetings.
We didn’t have regular meetings of the Organization in the summer, but
those of us who were involved in it hung out together so much of the time
that it was like one continuous meeting. As for Clu’s Vanguard, the Committee
members who were involved in the Organization knew about it. The others
were only gradually becoming aware of what it was.
A cab drove
up with Don and Marge. Clu bit her lip, but smiled again and extended her
hand for them to shake - like an old-time southern hostess giving an audience.
And right after that, Hope came bounding over the yard with her April-colored
hair streaming behind her. I put my notebook down.
my wrists in her small hands and looked up at me smiling. That strange
asymmetrical upper lip looked more fascinating and attractive than ever.
"I have to be
back home soon before mother has breakfast ready. She’s been going on and
on about Zack all morning - how she can’t stand it that he smokes dope
and all." Zack was Hope’s older brother who had been in Vietnam and just
gotten out of the Army a couple of months before.
us luck," I said.
"I do!" Hope
said. When we kissed, it wasn’t with those delicate, graceful brushing
with the lips like you see in the movies. We just found our place and held
on. In those days all my friends and I lived on junk food, but I know now
that that kiss gave me energy like the taste of fresh green leafy things.
We had our arms
tight around each other’s waist. We finally undid the kiss and let go of
each other and stared smiling, shy and amazed. I picked my notebook up
off the ground.
got to tell me everything that happens there," Hope said. Then she backed
off rapidly, waving at me and then turned away and started running towards
This time when
we got in our cars I felt that I had to ride with Clu and Don and Marge
and another Vanguard man and woman. I was the one who kept up most of the
conversation going, telling the Vanguarders from New York about how our
state had once had a bigger Socialist Party than New York state and how
it was crushed during World War I, about the Indians of our state and how
they were cheated and despoiled by the oil companies and about the culture
of the Indian tribes around Pronghorn, the town just next to Fort Clay,
where we were going.
Most of the
time Clu just said, "Oh, yes," to what I said, but the other Vanguarders
made some Marxist analysis comments about what I was telling and Don had
some pretty good local history stories of his own. Our state is so recent
and anyone whose family has lived there for three generations has some
very strange stories that have been kept out of official history by the
powers that be. In what other state does so much of its real history exist
only in the form of current gossip?
Anyway, I kept
things going until we were almost at the fort. Clu turned around very quickly
and gave me a grateful little smile, then she turned back looking straight
ahead and drove up to the MP at the gate and asked directions to Delta
Battery, second of the second where we were supposed to go. He pointed
and gave some explanations. We had to ask another soldier who was walking
along the road, before we found it. The court martial was taking place
in a small, stuffy recreation room. There were tables in front with three
officers sitting. Beside the tables stood an American flag and on the wall
behind them was a large picture of President Lyndon Johnson, looking like
a mournful crocodile.
As we came into
the room, we saw three TV crews with cameras in the hall just outside.
There were barely enough chairs for all the spectators. I recognized Pete
Yoder and Stan Bennett, the two G.I.’s who had come to the Committee meeting
with Will sitting with three other soldiers. Reporters with note pads sat
in other seats. I thought - at least I remembered to bring my notebook.
We all got seated.
The door opened
and five MP’s with rifles on their shoulders led Will in. Following him
came his lawyer, a sturdy-looking man, still young, with a curly reddish
beard and a mop of dark red Beatle-length hair. He was the hairiest person
in the whole room. All the Vanguard men and myself and most of the Committee
guys were clean-shaven - not to mention the soldiers. A couple of males
in the Committee had mustaches and fuzz on their cheeks, but nothing like
this lawyer. The eyes of the officers at the table stood out like marbles
ready to roll down the aisle.
All of a sudden I was staring too. Under all that mop and beard was
Ben! Ben Markovitz had been my lawyer and gotten me out of jail once during
the civil rights movement. The last time I had seen him he had short hair
and a shave like the rest of us down there. At the moment he didn’t see
me. He sat down with Will at one of the tables.
The army’s prosecutor
called as his first witness, Lieutenant Henry Hogue, a very plump blond
fellow with a pink pear-shaped baby face. The Hog all right. The major,
acting as judge, asked him, "Lieutenant Hogue, were you wearing the uniform
of an officer when you gave Corporal Orry the order to turn over his literature?"
That is the army’s case," the prosecutor said.
The Hog saluted
and wheeled around and started to march away when Ben said, "I ask that
this witness be recalled."
The Hog walked
back to the tables. Ben was standing there twirling his beard tip between
his thumb and his forefinger.
Hogue, do you think you violated Corporal Orry’s First Amendment rights?"
Hogue, what is the First Amendment?"
"I don’t know."
"You say you
didn’t violate it, but you don’t know what it is. Just take a guess."
illegal search and seizure?"
the Fourth Amendment. You violated that one too, but we’ll get to that
in a moment. The First Amendment is about freedom of speech and press,
Lieutenant Hogue. Now do you know what Army Regulation 381-135 is?"
"No." The Hog
was looking mighty uncomfortable. He was shifting his bulk from one foot
to the other.
38l-135!" Ben said loudly, startling the Hog and the officers at the table
so that they stared at Ben. "I’ll read it to you," Ben went on. "The Unit
Commander shall further insure that there is no interference with the US
Mails and that any individual in his unit has a right to read and retain
commercial publications for his personal use. Now, Lieutenant Hogue,
did you take an officer’s oath when you entered the army? Lieutenant Hogue,
did you take an officer’s oath to uphold the Constitution when you entered
Hogue, do you think that the First and Fourth Amendments are part of the
Hogue did you give the order to break open Corporal Orry’s locker?"
Hogue, did colonel White have anything to do with this order?"
All of a sudden
the three officers at the table got their heads together and started whispering.
I didn’t know what was going on.
"It-it was my
order," the Hog barely mumbled.
is dismissed," Ben said. The Hog saluted somewhat more limply than before,
wheeled around and walked out. I could see on his face that he was glad
calls Sergeant Daniel Caldwell," Ben said. A small, lean man came through
the door. He looked like he was much stronger than his size. He had a flat-top
hair cut and a hatchet face with narrow eyes that looked like they had
seen a lot of war. He went to the tables and saluted the officers.
his name, rank, etc., Ben asked, "Sergeant Cladwell, did Colonel White
know anything about the order to get Corporal Orry’s literature?"
had been outside. He had not heard anything the Hog said.
"Did he know?"
Sergeant Caldwell started off. "Well, it was his idea. He had a conference
with myself and the Hog. I mean, Lieutenant Hogue. Colonel White said,
"You’ve got to get that stuff out of Orry’s locker."
is dismissed," Ben said. "Recall Lieutenant Hogue."
The Hog came
back in with his mouth slightly open in a "what in the hell is going on
Hogue," Ben asked, "did Colonel White know anything about the attempt to
get Corporal Orry’s literature?"
"I told you
"But your own
first sergeant said he did. So who’s lying?"
me all twisted around," the Hog said, sadly puzzled.
"I’m just trying
to clear this matter up," Ben said. "Who gave the order, you or Colonel
White. He gave the order. But if he hadn’t done it, I would have."
"I move that
this case be dismissed," Ben said, "on the grounds that according to the
Uniform Code of Military Justice, the judge is supposed to be of equal
rank with the officer bringing the complaint. Major Hansen, as judge, you
of course are a major and Colonel White who brought the complaint is a
colonel - and Lieutenant Hogue, the only prosecution witness, has committed
said, "Your motions are dismissed. The court martial will continue." The
major and the two captains sitting with him buzzed among themselves and
then Major Hansen said, "Corporal Will Orry, rise."
Will stood up.
He looked toward us briefly. His mouth was just a line, but there was gratitude
in his eyes.
went on, "You are found guilty of disobeying an order. You are sentenced
to forty-five days of confined hard labor, forfeiture of twenty day’s pay
and you are reduced in rank to private E-1."
Right then, Clu stood up and started chanting, strong and clear: "END
THE WAR IN VIETNAM! BRING THE TROOPS HOME! END THE WAR IN VIETNAM! BRINT
THE TROOPS HOME!"
shouted, "At ease!" at Clu, but she kept chanting. Soon I was on my feet
with all the Committee people and we were chanting with her. The Vanguard
people were still in their seats. Don turned around and glared at Clu.
I knew what
was going on. The Vanguarders were very brave people when anybody attacked
them, but at this stage of history, they were not supposed to do anything
that might be interpreted as initiating defiance of the law. Not until
their Central Committee decided it was time. They were the army of the
revolution, and just like the US Army, which we were up against, the Vanguard
wanted everything to be as predictable as possible.
and Stan and the other three G.I.’s in the audience were on their feet
chanting: "END THE WAR IN VIETNAM! BRING THE TROOPS HOME!" Don rose to
his feet, Marge stood up quickly after him and then the seven other Vanguarders.
A couple of them started chanting weakly, but not Don and Marge. But the
chanting kept getting louder and louder and finally Don and Marge joined
Markovitz cupped his hands to his mouth and hollered at Major Hansen over
the noise, "I’m appealing the verdict!"
Major Hansen turned to a black MP and said, pointing at Clu, "Remove
that woman from the courtroom!" but the MP didn’t move.
Then Pete Yoder,
the small, shy blonde G.I. walked up to Lieutenant Hogue and shouted, "Hog,
you’re a liar! We all heard you lie!"
Major Hansen motioned to two MP’s - white ones this time, and said,
"Arrest that man and confine him in his barracks until his court martial!
He’s up on charges of insulting an officer!"
The MP’s grabbed
Pete and took him out the door.
We were chanting
even louder. Then Don walked up to Clu and whispered to her and she whispered
back. She raised her hand and motioned to us and we all went out the door
to face the TV cameras. Will and Ben followed along after us. The reporters
were pushing against us and jabbering at us all at once. We were all too
disoriented, even Don. There was no press conference. We just waded through
reporters and hauled ass out of the building. We found ourselves standing
on the curb with Will and Ben. All of a sudden Ben recognized me and his
eyes lit up and he ran over and threw his arms around my shoulders and
swung me around. "Dale! Where the hell have you been?" he shouted three
or four times.
In the words
from Quince Brigada, a Spanish Civil War song, that Ben liked, I answered,
"I just left to struggle on other fronts."
"Hey, can we
leave to struggle over a beer?" Ben said.
what I wanted to do, at a place called the Barrage, if you don’t have to
fly back to New York."
"Well, I wanted
to stay and discuss strategy with Will tonight," Ben said. By now he had
one arm around Will’s shoulders and one arm around mine.
"I’d like that,"
I said. "I have a friend of mine named Jim Ed Williams there and some other
friends I’d like you and Will to meet tonight."
We went over
to Clu and Don and Marge and the others. Will said, "I’ve gotta go back
and play soldier for a few hours. Before I go...I...I just want to thank
everybody here. I didn’t know what it would be like to have people on my
Clu had tears
in her eyes, again, but this time they were tears of happiness and pride.
As for Don, he had his head tilted at an angle and his eyes and mouth crinkled
in a thoughtful grimace. As he had read in the lives of Lenin and other
revolutionaries, so often history takes unforeseen twists and turns.