CHARLOTTE -- The first Army officer to refuse to serve in Iraq is being honored across the country. But while some are calling Lt. Ehren Watada brave, many who served are calling him a coward.
“It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law,” Watada said in a written statement.
Watada tried to resign his post in opposition of the war, but the military refused. He now sits in a Florida base facing a possible court martial.
The new documentary called “Sir, No Sir” details military personnel in Vietnam who either refused to go to war or spoke out against it, including Mecklenburg County resident Ahmad Daniels. He was imprisoned for two and a half years for refusing to go to Vietnam, and he is now supporting Watada.“I think he's come to realization that it's an unjust war. It's an illegal occupation of another nation and he refuses to play a part in it,” Daniels said. “The fact that we have this lieutenant who says, ‘I'm not going to Iraq,’ that says a lot. That's a good start.”The documentary was shown in dozens of cities Tuesday in support of Watada’s cause.
Terry Beavers, a Vietnam veteran, is now a member of a Charlotte-based VFW. He was outraged to hear about the growing national support for Watada, especially since he voluntarily signed up to be a part of the military.
“They have that right to agree or disagree,” he said. “They do not have a right to refuse lawful orders.”
Beavers says following orders was critical to survive.
“If they do not carry these orders out the machine breaks down,” he said. “If the machine breaks down, we lose.”
Watada could face a dishonorable discharge and two years in prison for failing to follow his movement orders to Iraq.