From the onset of his application the lack of integrity in the command of his unit showed itself. His commander refused to process his application violating an Army regulation. His chaplain chose to debate the issue with Sgt. Benderman rather than assist him, another ethical violation of Sgt. Benderman’s rights. Without benefit of an investigation into the trumped up charges threatening to be brought against Sgt. Benderman, the acting Commander of the installation where he was stationed pre-determined Sgt. Benderman’s guilt and used his influence to encourage the prosecution to see that all actions led to a stiff sentence against Sgt. Benderman, regardless of the final decision on which charge to impose. This action was then openly publicized as an attempt to threaten any other soldiers who might consider making the same objection to war as Sgt. Benderman.
The publicity surrounding the trial and imprisonment of Sgt. Benderman was wide spread. I happened to be in Australia at a “First Ladies” Luncheon when the guilty verdict was announced. I remember the day quite vividly since my aunt was the guest speaker. My Aunt Faye who has made her mark in real estate development offered great tips which initially seemed simple, but upon reflection were so important to entrepreneurs and people starting out in small business. I was thrilled to be able to attend one of these networking, business luncheons. Nevertheless, the guilty verdict for Sgt. Benderman was a real downer and etched the date quite solidly in my mind.
Throughout the trial process threats of further legal action and additional charges were made in an effort to cause Sgt. Benderman to plead guilty to a crime that he did not commit. He refused and the threatening acts continued. The command was angry for Sgt. Benderman’s committed stand on principle brought their own actions into question and caused them to fear what would happen if they did not bring this soldier back into their control.
Sgt. Benderman is now in prison convicted on the basis of misrepresentations and conflicting testimonies. His court martial process serves as testimony to the corrupt system of justice now presiding in our US military.
The easy course would have been to run away, to hide and pretend that life was simple and peaceful. The easy course would have been to change a name, to move to another country justifying it by declaring the Constitution of this country to be dead and the government too far corrupt for change to happen. The easy course would have been to desert.
But desertion would only mean giving up. It would mean the work of generations of American pioneers who came before would be tossed away as if it didn’t matter. It would mean forgetting history. It would be a disservice to all those who toughed out the difficult times of building the foundations for this country in which we now live. It would mean dishonoring the sacrifice of every person who ever gave a part of their life to make the home they believed in, America, something to be proud of.
Guns, missiles and pre-emptive wars against the peace are not going to make us secure and they are not going to stop terrorist acts. Americans will stop terrorist acts when they finally dare to face their fears and take a stand against the threats being made against them and demand that the foundation on which this country was created be restored.
The easy course or the path to principle – which road will you choose?
Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, wrongfully imprisoned for being a Conscientious Objector to war. Kevin is currently serving a 15 month sentence at the Ft. Lewis RCF in Washington.