Michael New's Homecoming Speech

JULY 28, 1996

Standing is an important posture in life. People stand when the national anthem is played. When the flag passes, people stand and cover their hearts. On political issues people ask where do you stand, what is your position?

For generations, parents in America have taught us how to stand. They have shown us what to stand for and what to stand against.

I am here today for no other reason than the fact that I made a stand as a U.S. Army Specialist on October 10, 1995. It was a simple act. The course set before me was clear. I had no question about where to stand that early fall morning in Schweinfurt, Germany.

It all began on August 21, 1995 when my seniors in the U.S. Army chain of command informed me that my battalion, first of the fifteenth, 3rd Infantry Division, would soon be deployed to a UN operation in Macedonia. However, they said this UN mission would be different from the previous UN mission on which I served in Kuwait. My seniors informed me that this deployment required my battalion to significantly alter our uniforms by removing the U.S. flag from the right shoulder, the senior side of the U.S. Army Battle Dress Uniform, to the left shoulder, and replace the flag with a UN patch, badge and insignia. We would also wear a UN blue beret or helmet.

This seemed like an unusual requirement, to put the UN badge in a more important position on my uniform than the flag. Without knowing a lot about the UN, it seemed wrong to me. The Army taught me that the wearing of a uniform, or the accoutrements of a uniform, was a sign of allegiance and faithfulness to the authority or power so signified. As an American fighting man, how could I wear the badges and insignia of another government? I had taken an oath to the United States of America and no other. I had sworn to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, to obey the orders of the President and those in authority over me. But the Army enlisted oath doesn't bind me to blind obedience, but goes on to say "according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so help me, God."

Like I said in that oath, I fully intended to obey all lawful orders, according to regulations. Congress makes all regulations governing the land and naval forces. And the experts in the military on the wearing of the regulation uniform are the sergeants. So, I asked my sergeant, how we as American soldiers, could wear a "UN uniform" and still be American soldiers? The response I got to my sergeant's level question about the proper wear of the historic U.S. Army uniform was not what I expected. I was threatened with court martial, imprisonment or less than an honorable discharge, if I did not wear the "UN uniform."

And further, I was directed to study the history and objectives of the UN. This I did and I was more proud to be an American than ever before. I knew I did not want to be a member of the UN military force. The UN Charter, their constitution, is based upon very subjective man-made regulations and their brand of human rights are given by the men of the United Nations. Their rights are not like those we have been endowed with by our Creator, but rather can be modified or taken away by the UN. I saw from my own study that the UN's authority and founding principles are diametrically opposed to the founding documents of America, my country, and the United States, my government.

As the time ticked off from August, through September to October, I did not receive an answer from the Army about the lawfulness of the order to wear the badges and insignia of the UN on my uniform, until October 2, 1995, when there was a special unprecedented briefing on the legal basis for deployment to Macedonia and the wearing of the "UN uniform." The five hundred and fifty soldiers in my battalion filed into an auditorium in Schweinfurt to hear from an Army lawyer, who was a West Point graduate. At the end of a 52 minute presentation, he finally came to the answer I had been waiting so many tense weeks to hear. The reason, he says, we wear the UN uniform, is because "they look fabulous!" Everyone in the auditorium laughed. I didn't think it was very funny.

By that time I knew that the UN uniform was not regulation. The only regulation berets, are the Green for Special Forces, the black for Rangers and the maroon for Airborne. None of the seven UN uniform accoutrements have made it into the Army's regulation handbook for soldiers because Congress has not approved the wear of the UN uniform.

My stand was not a matter of conscience, it was a matter of my understanding that there is an objective (stand)ard which doesn't make allowances for what I think or feel about it. I believe that the laws and our Constitution are the final word, and I had sworn to uphold this objective external standard. Thus on October 10, 1995, on a misty fall morning, I walked out into a sea of baby blue, in my historic and completely regulation U.S. Army battle dress uniform. The same uniform in which many a brave soldier has shed blood in order to preserve and protect our American way of life. I was ordered to fall out for not surrendering my regulation BDU. As I followed the my squad leader from the formation that October day, I knew I would never return to my unit and that I was in trouble with a huge institution, one which I care a great deal about, and one in which I strove to be a good soldier.

After I made my intention to stand firm clear to my family, Dad knew I was going to need some legal assistance. My mother and father have been very supportive throughout and I can never thank them enough for standing by each other all these years and especially for standing by me over the past year. They taught me that in life taking a stand could cost me. They were right.

Dad found help for me in Colonel Ronald D. Ray. A retired Marine, Col. Ray is a lawyer, a Vietnam combat veteran and an historian. I received word that I would be court martialed for my stand and Colonel Ray began researching my legal position. He said my stand did not just need a defense. It also needed an offense. He said, "We never win on the defense. We must take the war to them." While he told me my case was conclusive, and that I was on solid legal ground, he did not trust the courts. And, as a Vietnam veteran, he said experience had taught him that you can win all the battles and yet lose the war in the court of public opinion. Therefore Colonel Ray and my father took the offensive war to the airwaves of talk radio and let people know of my stand.

I believe that Colonel Ray was ignited by my stand but he also said he had a belly full of limited "no-win" UN wars, probably from his time in Vietnam. Some of you may be veterans of the Korean war. Korea was the first limited UN war in which victory was not the primary objective. Orders began coming from New York instead of Washington and General MacArthur, who said, "In war there is no substitute for victory," had to be relieved of command. That kind of winning attitude had to be eliminated. Then came Vietnam. It badly marked a generation. Men, deceived by their political leaders, fought half a world away when the real battle was being fought here for the heart and soul of America. It seemed, as I learned more about how the UN military wages "peace" in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Somalia, that Macedonia and Bosnia seemed like more of the same limited "no-win" UN wars.

In January 1996 as we prepared for court martial, my stand would ratchet up in a way I could never have anticipated due to four Presidential letters which appeared in Col. Ray's fax machine from Germany late one evening. These letters were part of the legal discovery the Army owed my defense but they were held back without comment and too late for inclusion in the written legal presentation before the court. These letters would show without question that Bill Clinton had misrepresented the Macedonian deployment to Congress. Mr. Clinton told the Congress in those four letters that the Macedonian mission was not of significant danger to warrant their approval. That was provably not true. The Colonel said that the military judge would never rule on the lawfulness of a Presidential order, so he filed suit against the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army seeking an honorable discharge for me in an independent federal court. The offensive campaign in the Courts, the Congress and the court of public opinion was really accelerating.

The President said the Macedonian deployment was a Chapter VI UN mission. However, 27 UN Security Council Resolutions would refer to the Macedonian deployment as a Chapter VII, which, under the UN Participation Act of 1945, requires Congressional approval. Approval is required because the Constitution provided for a balance of power. The President is not a King. When America sends her sons and daughters into harms way, the voice and will of "We the People" must be heard through our elected representatives. This responsibility and limitation on his Presidential authority was something else Bill Clinton dodged. I clearly understood my stand was now toe to toe with Bill Clinton. On October 10, 1995, my stand was related to my change of status as an American fighting man. I had not questioned foreign policy. Remember, I had asked a sergeant's level question.

1. I was standing against an unlawful order to deploy to Macedonia; 2. refusing the President's order to wear the UN uniform; 3. refusing to serve under a foreign UN commander; 4. and refusing to be required to carry only the UN identification card.

In January 1995, as a result of the Presidential letters, my stand began to be seen in a much larger context, as a stand for the country and a stand for over 30,000 other soldiers unlawfully deployed around the world in UN military operations.

However, on January 24, 1996, I was convicted of not obeying what the prosecution called a "lawful order" even though they admitted in open court in Germany that the uniform was not a regulation uniform. My defense was not allowed to put on the overwhelming evidence that the order was unlawful which pointed to presidential wrongdoing and the failure of Congressional oversight. The military judge basically said it was above his pay grade to rule on Presidential wrong doing and bucked it up to the next judiciary level.

My stand has brought me back to America with a bad conduct discharge and appeals hanging over me in both the civilian and military court systems. I left Germany in the middle of July and traveled to Washington to meet with Congressional leaders whom Colonel Ray had briefed on my stand and its significance to American law and public policy. Because of my stand and the tremendous support my stand has received from many wonderful people like you, Colonel Ray gained access to testify before a Senate foreign policy subcommittee and UN ambassador Madeline Albright had to come and explain by what authority America soldiers are transferred from the U.S. military to the UN military. Through it all, I have simply stood and, until reaching America two weeks, I have not spoken about this matter which shows just how powerful a stand can be.

I am now out of uniform, but the Congress is not out of jeopardy of losing control of America's military to U.N. command and control. But because of my stand, there is legislation now in Congress. H.R. 3308, which is deceptively entitled, "The Armed Forces Protection Act of 1996," has been rightly labeled by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett as "unconstitutional, containing an illegal transfer of Congressional authority to the Executive branch."

If it is passed, H.R. 3308 will give legislative and political cover to President Clinton for his three years of misrepresentation to Congress in sending U.S. soldiers like me on UN military operations to places like Macedonia, forcing us to wear unauthorized UN uniforms, and to serve under foreign UN commanders. These UN commanders take an oath of exclusive allegiance to the United Nations, but after committing themselves to the UN and being put on the UN payroll, they command U.S. troops making life and death decisions over them.

Even President Clinton has admitted that if captured, these troops, unlawfully deployed, fall into a bottomless pit in international law when serving as UN military. They lose important legal protections if taken hostage, as many have been in Macedonia, and that is of critical importance, especially if the one captured is your son, father, uncle, or anyone else in your family.

Substitute legislation has been drafted and offered by my defense team to Congressmen and women to introduce and support in opposition to H.R. 3308. It is entitled "The American Soldier Protection and American Command Preservation Act." It would prevent the president and others from freely internationalizing the U.S. armed forces through the multi-national government of the United Nations. I am told the Republicans have been slow to pick up this legislation and the opportunity to shame Bill Clinton for this bad treatment of American soldiers, especially in an election year. Col. Ray says it is because they don't really disagree with Clinton's UN policies to wage "peace" around the world.

Now, as you can tell, I am not a speaker or a politician. I am a soldier. I swore an oath to the Constitution, took my post and I made my stand. I was proud and comforted to make my stand on October 10, 1995, protected by our Constitution. I have done what I am able to do. Let my stand serve as a sign to you of how far we have gone in subjugating the United States military to the United Nations military. However, I must tell you I do not intend to become a symbol, only a sign to point out, in this case, a hazard. I do not want to be held up as something extraordinary. I did only what I had to do to be able to keep my oath and live with myself.

The message I stand before you today to give you is to contact the Legal Defense Fund, keep up with the latest information in regard to the defense of my stand, which so many of you have kindly adopted. My mission in the courts is simply to obtain an honorable discharge for my honorable disobedience. Also, please stay current with the offensive action taken as a result of my stand, the Congressional legislation developed by Colonel Ray and others more skilled than I, to protect our country and support our troops. If I could cause this much trouble as one person, just think about what you can do. It is up to you.

I am a simple soldier, and I am now a civilian, as I said earlier, I am not a speaker or a politician, but there are those of you who are. And because you are, I charge you this day to take up this effort because the day is coming soon when the U.S. Army Code of Conduct will become as obsolete as General MacArthur became during the Korean war when the code was written I am told by heroes like, Dwayne Thorin, because of the confusion among the ranks about their allegiance: To the UN or U.S? It reads in part:

I will never forget that I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.

I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which make my country free. I will trust in God and in the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you and God bless America.

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