There's no epigram at the beginning of Sir! No Sir!, but if there were, it would be George Santayana's famous phrase: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
A riveting documentary about the GI antiwar movement during the Vietnam era, director David Zeiger's look back to the days of Nixon and LBJ and the massive military buildup in Southeast Asia bears so many parallels to the current conflict in Iraq that it's eerie. And no matter where one stands on the political spectrum - and on the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq - those parallels are worth examining.
Featuring interviews with dozens of Vietnam veterans - West Point-schooled officers, Navy airmen, nurses, doctors, Marine squad leaders, and the Army grunts on the ground - Sir! No Sir! shines a light on a forgotten corner of the antiwar movement: the men (and a few women) who returned from their tours of duty filled with doubt and disillusionment over what they saw, and did, there.
Facing the possibility of court martial and imprisonment, thousands of vets linked arms with protesters. According to Pentagon figures cited by Zeiger, more than a half-million "incidents of desertion" occurred between 1966 and 1971; whole units refused to go into battle; officers were being attacked and killed by their own men.
Sir! No Sir! documents a remarkable mass movement - a mass mutiny - against military and government leadership. It was a movement fueled by conviction and conscience, and whether one looks at those veterans as heroes or traitors, their actions helped to bring about dramatic change.