WASHINGTON - May 23 - Retired Army Colonel and former US Diplomat Ann Wright was detained Monday and subsequently barred from Ft. McNair in Washington, DC for distributing postcards with information about the historical documentary Sir! No Sir! Military police on the base accused her of “distributing seditious material” for handing out flyers about the film, which tells the forgotten history of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam. In a review last week, the Washington Post called the film “An absorbing piece of cultural history.”
Colonel Wright was taken into custody by military police after placing postcards at a few locations on the base, including the headquarters and the Army’s ‘Center for Military History’. Wright is familiar with the Center, having donated items from her military service in Grenada in 1983 and 1984. Wright also served in Nicaragua, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia, and was on the team that reopened the US embassy in Cabal, Afghanistan in December of 2001.
Military police said the postcards, which advertise the film’s run at the E Street Cinema in Washington DC this week, were “seditious material”. Wright was handcuffed and taken to the military police station, where she was handcuffed to a chair, despite her stance that she was a peaceful, nonviolent, 59 year old retired army colonel with arthritic knees. She mentioned to the military policeman that she’d been in the Army longer than he’d been alive and respected the military, but felt that the history of US involvement in Vietnam was not “seditious material”, and that this history would not jeopardize order and discipline in the military. She was detained for two hours and upon release was told that she may be barred by the base commander for having distributed the postcards.
Ann Wright said: “History can be embarrassing to organizations, but embarrassment is not a reason to deny history or to deny people in an organization the right to understand the historical context that this film--Sir! No Sir--presents to the US public, both military and civilian.”
Wright served 13 years in the US Army and 16 years in the Reserves, and after 16 years in the diplomatic corps resigned in May 2003, in opposition to the war on Iraq. She now lectures frequently from her military and diplomatic background on current foreign policy issues, including the need to stop the war on Iraq.
Because of her belief that this is an important film for Americans to see, Wright plans to continue distributing postcards wherever she wants to.