Christina Lombardi


I Ain’t Marching Anymore: Soldiers who Dissent from George Washington to John Murtha

Christina Lombardi

First developed at Columbia University in the spring of 2006 under the mentorship of Samuel Freedman, Ain’t Marching draws on journalist Lombardi’s previous experience with the G.I. Rights Hotline and Military Task Force and her training in history and literature, as well as her more-recently-honed journalism skills. With the support of the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing as well as her position as a reporter for the local newspaper group Community Media, Lombardi has interviewed scores of veterans from the country’s 20th and 21st-century wars while amassing an impressive cast of characters to fill her narrative from earlier wars. Who does the U.S. hire or draft to fight, kill and die for its interests? How should such people enter into policy debates? What are they owed, what do they owe? These questions, vitally important as the current war enters a new phase, will be given new light by the thoroughly reported, accessibly written Ain’t Marching.

The book’s strategy is both narrative, highlighting lesser-known figures from each war while casting light on more familiar debates, and analytical, exploring the issues of citizenship, identity, race, class and gender that are enmeshed in military service. The lesser-known historical figures include Ethan Allen Hitchcock, the Hamlet of American expansionism, subjected to court martial after raising similar questions during the Mexican-American War; Lewis Douglass, Frederick’s son, a Civil War veteran of the Massachusetts 54th who joined fellow veterans Ambrose Bierce and Clay MacCauley in questioning American expansionism; and Charles G. Bolte, who didn’t wait for Pear1 Harbor to join the fight against Hitler but did so with the British Army, then founded the American Veterans Committee, an alternative to the American Legion that advocated radical disarmament of national governments and an international peacekeeping force composed of war veterans.

Similar still-living figures include Korean War veteran and retired Congressman Andrew J. Jacobs, inventor of the term “chicken hawk,” who opposed each U.S. intervention since the Korean War;; former Army interrogators Peter Weiss, a World War II interrogator who went on to work with the Center for Constitutional Rights against abuses in Vietnam and Guantanamo; and Ricky Clousing, who learned enough as an interrogator in Iraq that he refused to return for his second deployment.

Why now? The book’s scheduled publication date, in January 2009, is quite intentional: after the Presidential election, but early enough to have an impact on the floor of Congress and the general public, all of whom can benefit from the light to be cast by the book. The idea is to loosen the story of such dissenters from the ideology that all sides attach to it, using humor and reporting accuracy to give the whole picture. Clinicians working with veterans and educators with college students can benefit from this resource —— but less so if it arrives years after all those veterans are either safely home or dead.

Samuel Freedman, whose famous Book Seminar at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, says of Ain’t Marching: “Chris has shown me a genuine historian’s skill at combing primary-source documents and a talented journalist’s knack for culling detailed material for living sources. She has made an important and original historical argument in this book, and I feel confident it will stand up to scrutiny, and, in fact, be very, very significant in the national discussion.”

What will the $3,000 provide? Travel and expenses related to the securing of military records, and support to enable Lombardi to complete three full drafts of the book without having to take on additional teaching and writing work. This would include, for the final spring-summer push, the purchase of health insurance from Freelancers Union, at $330 a month., and rent somewhere outside overpriced Manhattan. The outcome will be a 500-page, footnoted and cross-checked, deeply researched manuscript that will stand up to peer review from both scholars in the field and literary critics — and a distribution system that includes educators, clinicians, veterans, and members of Congress among its immediate beneficiaries.

The Foundation acknowledges that Christina Lombardi has successfully completed her project.