I am a retired U.S. Naval Officer.  My message is directed to my fellow active, reserve and retired service members of all branches of the US military.

I, along with so many Americans, am deeply troubled by today’s announcement by the President of the United States suggesting the use of the US military as a controlling force against US citizens.  This should, and no doubt does, trouble you as well.  When you signed up for military service, you did so in the belief that your were serving a purpose greater than yourself – you were willing to place your life on the line in defense of the country and its values – our country – a constitutional democracy!  Everyday, Americans all over the country honor you and thank you for your service. 

And now, a President who knows no honor, who has never served in the military, who has pardoned a convicted criminal of war crimes, who has fired the Captain of a ship for attempting to protect his crew from COVID 19, who has dishonored a POW and long-serving member of the US Senate, who has dishonored Gold Star Families, who lacks empathy for those killed in service to the country, who has endangered military members serving in conflicts overseas by betraying their international partners who have served alongside them and protected them, who has praised dictators and insulted long-standing allies, and who has violated treaties and withdrawn support from alliances that our country has long benefited from, now feels free to ask you to do something dishonorable on his behalf, under the pretext of “law and order”.  He will ask you, while wearing the uniform of a US service member, to turn on American citizens he disagrees with, for exercising their constitutional rights which you have sworn to protect and defend.  Will you follow such an order?  I hope your answer will be “No!” 

There is no violent insurgency occurring throughout the country that necessitates military intervention against US citizens. The protestors are not even armed.  There are agitators and there are criminal elements, which may or may not have been strategically placed there to create chaos, but these are separate from the many thousands who are raising their voices for justice for those being killed by police officers who have abused their power.  Actually, the closest thing I have seen to organized violence, were the neo-nazis marching with guns and torches in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 (who the President referred to as “very fine people”), and the armed groups around the country this year demanding that businesses be opened during a public health crisis in response to the President’s request that protestors “liberate” the states (essentially asking for an armed insurrection against state governments).  The vast majority of protestors on the streets now, risking their lives during a pandemic, are protesting peacefully, as is their right as Americans under our constitution.  Where there are specific acts of violence, looting, and any other form of criminal activity, states have sufficient state and local law enforcement capability to handle it.  Unlike what this President and this Secretary of Defense would have you believe, there are no “battlespaces” in the United States and there are no enemy combatants.  The United States is not a battleground for the military to fight a war in against its own people.  Please understand that any order asking you to turn on Americans, is not “serving your country”, but rather, serving the individual political interests of those willing to easily sacrifice your service and your life for their own political agendas.  Such an order goes against your oath and your honor.  Military service is non-political, and was never intended to be a political tool for a President to be used against Americans he or she dislikes or disagrees with.  To do so changes the country that you serve, from that of a democracy, to that of a dictatorship.  Are you willing to support that?  Again, I hope your answer is “No!”. 

Please do not support a President willing to literally go to war against his own people!  This is wrong, this is unjust, and this will further traumatize people of color, in particular, who have lived their entire lives being traumatized by obscene abuses of power.  This is not what a democracy does, and this is not what a democracy stands for.  You know in your heart that setting the US military against US citizens exercising their constitutional rights in a free society is both un-American and immoral. It lacks the honor we ascribe and value in military service, and you must have no part in pushing our country down a path toward authoritarianism. 

Thank you, and thank you for your service.