We Are Not Your Soldiers in Hayward CA


On Monday June 8th, Carly Sheehan (whose brother Casey was killed in Iraq) and Rafael from World Can't Wait went to Hayward High School as part of the "We Are Not Your Soldiers" tour.  Hayward High is a diverse working class school in the Bay Area that recruiters regularly come to.  There is also a brand new recruiting station that just opened in Hayward, right next to the junior college.  We did four seperate hour and a half long presentations, to about 120-150 students.  Attached is a rough outline of our presentations.  The whole thing was set up by a teacher and a student, who got a few other teachers involved. 
Report by Carly Sheehan
Walking into Mr. Dwyer’s class at Hayward High School Monday, I had no idea what to expect from the students I was about to speak to. Speaking for the first time with the “We Are Not Your Soldiers” tour, I didn’t know if the students would be receptive to the message of resistance to recruitment and military service. I’m really heartened by what I found.
Through a multimedia presentation, Rafael and I shared the message of active resistance to military recruitment with the students. The students discussed the experiences of family and friends in the military and what they understood about how the military works. Their knowledge of these experiences was limited, ranging from “They said it sucked,” to “They said the military is a good opportunity.” We also asked if military recruiters had approached the students and if they planned to join the military. Many had talked to recruiters, and a couple actually wanted to join up after graduation.
We showed the students a video from Winter Soldier, so they could hear and see some of the truth about the military. Some students reacted strongly to images of soldiers shooting up a mosque minaret, and others to the admission by the soldier that he randomly shot a man in the street for his first kill. We also did an exercise to illustrate how detainees at Guantanamo came to be there, by having the students sell each other out as “gangmembers” for “money.” I shared with the students how my own brother was a victim of the poverty draft and how his death in Iraq changed our family forever.  
Overall the students’ response to We Are Not Your Soldiers was positive. Before one class a student said he was going to join up and another girl said she believed the military was an honorable career choice. After the presentation, the boy shook his head “no” vigorously when asked if he still wanted to join. The girl cried during much of the presentation and then quietly told me that she would never do “that” to her family, by which she meant join the military. In another class a sophomore told me that she would never allow any of her seven brothers to join up. Not all the students got our message. It upset one sophomore to hear that Barack Obama is carrying on policies of torture and is bombing civilians in Pakistan. She argued, vehemently, that Obama probably had more information than the public and we should just let him do what he feels is necessary. She would not back down, showing these students are passionate about their beliefs, but more eye-opening education is needed. One junior said he was going to join up because he was from a military family, and almost proudly declared he was not going to college at the beginning of our presentation. At the end he had not changed his mind, but he was not as forceful in his conviction, and I hope he is now thinking twice about the possibility of ruining his life by becoming complicit in the war crimes perpetrated every day by our military. 
I believe that last Monday Rafael and I, through the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour, opened the eyes of many students to the realities of the military and recruitment of students in schools. I believe recruiters will have a hard time getting any of those kids to join up, and I hope we see the students out at protests against the new recruiting station in Hayward.