History of the Slogan 'Support the Troops - Bring them Home How'

When And Where Did The Slogan 'Support The Troops -- Bring Them  Home' Originate?    From: Yoshie Furuhashi <[email protected]  [posted to:
When And Where Did The Slogan 'Support The Troops -- Bring Them
Home' Originate?

From: Yoshie Furuhashi <
[email protected]
[posted to: [email protected]

I asked: "When and where did the slogan 'Support the Troops --
Bring Them Home' originate? In the anti-Gulf War movement?" I've
received many fascinating replies. Thanks to you all for replies
on and off the listservs (L-I, LBO-talk, Marxmail, M-Fem, MLG, PEN-
l, Portside [sent to its moderators], Rad-Green, Socialist
Register, Solidarity). I have a few more questions:

Q2 Why not simply say, "Bring the Troops Home _Now_," rather than
"Support the Troops -- Bring Them Home"? That's shorter, clearer,
and more pointed, no?

Q3 Is the slogan "Support the Troops -- Bring Them Home" a US
slogan? Or is the slogan now being used in Australia, the UK,
Israel, etc., too? Has it been used in other nations before, e.g.
by anti-war protesters in the UK during the The Falklands War/La
Guerra de Las Malvinas (1982)?

Q4 I've received a variety of answers (see the notes below) to my
first question: "When and where did the slogan 'Support the Troops
-- Bring Them Home' originate? In the anti-Gulf War movement?"

The earliest date of use of the theme of bringing the troops home
points to a "Bring the Troops Home Now" protest movement at the end
of World War 2, in opposition to the use of US troops to crush
anti-colonial uprisings in the Asia-Pacific region (Cf. Alan Wald)
and also to the stationing of US troops in Europe (Cf. Jose G.
Perez), though the slogan in that movement appears to have been
used without the addition of "Support the Troops." There had been
anti-war and/or anti-imperialist protests and movements before 1945
(e.g., oppositions to the Mexican War, the Anti-Imperialist League,
protests against WW1, etc.). What were their slogans, with regard
to US troops sent by the US government to foreign territories?


Replies to my first question -- "When and where did the slogan
'Support the Troops -- Bring Them Home' originate? In the anti-
War movement?" -- include the following:

A1 Originally, the slogan was "Bring the Troops Home Now," used by
a movement to oppose the use of US troops to crush anti-colonial
uprisings in the Asia-Pacific region at the end of WW2.

Alan Wald gave me the following reference: Harvey Swados, _Standing
Fast_, <http://www.bolerium.com/cgi-bin/bol48/233.html; pamphlets
from the movement should exist in some historical archives --

Shannon Sheppard (Director, Holt Labor Library) points to Mary-
Alice Waters, "A Hidden Chapter in the Fight against War: the Going
Home Movement" in a 1975 SWP Education for Socialists bulletin,
"Revolutionary Strategy in the Fight Against the Vietnam War" (the
article originally appeared in the November-December 1965 issue of
the Young Socialist -- it chronicles the movement begun by US
troops stationed in Europe and quickly supported by their friends
and family in the states, protesting the US troops' transfer from
Europe to the Pacific "to protect Western interests from the
growing colonial revolution"); anyone who wants a copy of the
article or the entire bulletin should contact Shannon Sheppard at
the Holt Labor Library, (415) 241-1370,
<[email protected].

Juan Fajardo says that the article was also reprinted in _New
International_ No. 7 (ISBN: 0-87348-642-0), under the title "1945:
When U.S. Troops said 'No!'" Alan Wald remembers that he bought a
copy of Mary-Alice Waters, _G.I.'s and the Fight against War: the
"Going Home" Movement_ in 1965 (a 1967 copy is in Ken Lopez's
catalog at <http://www.lopezbooks.com/vn1/vn1-06.html).

Rodney W. of Boston says that the great military resistance slogan
from the end of WW2 was "Send Our Ships!" chanted by GI's in the
Philippines who started the S.O.S. (Send Our Ships) movement,
rallying to be sent home instead of getting used for anticommunist
campaigns; in the course of the movement, riots broke out, and
officers' clubs and barracks were ransacked and torched -- then,
GIs got their ships and got to go home!

A2 The slogan ("Bring the Troops Home Now"? "Support the Troops
-- Bring Them Home Now"? Both?) was used, according to Alan Wald,
by the "Out Now" and "Immediate Withdrawal" section of the anti-
Vietnam War movement in the sixties (in contrast to the liberal
"Negotiate Now" section (promoted by SANE, etc., according to
Carrol Cox) and the explicitly anti-imperialist "Victory to the
NLF" section of the movement); the slogan was coined by the SWP
according to Louis Proyect.

Jose G. Perez says that discussion of the SWP deployment of the
slogan may be found in Fred Halstead, _Out Now_, <
http://www.pathfinderpress.com/d800/819.shtml. Reed Tryte writes
that there is a picture of a New York anti-war march down Fifth
Avenue, with a man in the march carrying a sign that reads "Support
Our Boys -- Bring Them Home Now" (right next to him is a man with a
sign declaring "The USA National Liberation Movement Supports the
NLF of Vietnam," next to whom stands a woman with a sign "Committee
to Aid the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam") on the
cover of _West Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir_ by William Blum
-- see the picture at

Charles Post also remembers the slogan "Support the Troops-- Bring
Them Home Now" from the anti-Vietnam War movement. Patrick Quinn
qualifies it: "Liberals tended to use the 'Support Our Boys: Bring
Them Home Now' variant while radicals used the 'Bring the Troops
Home Now' slogan." Rodney recommends David Cortwright, _Soldiers
in Revolt: The American Military Today_ (Garden City, NY:
Doubleday, 1975)_.

A3 The slogan became prominent during the anti-Gulf War movement,
perhaps in part in response to the myth that Vietnam Veterans were
spit upon or otherwise ill treated by an anti-war movement, hence
more verbal emphasis on the theme of supporting the troops than
before (WW2, Vietnam War).

See Melani McAlister (Cf.
Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle
East, 1945-2000_ (2001), <
http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9257.html>, for an analysis of
how anti-Gulf War protesters often self-consciously staged protests
to distinguish them from those during the anti-Vietnam War

Chai R. Montgomery recalls that the slogan during the Vietnam days
was "Stop the War -- Bring the Troops Home Now," but anti-Gulf War
protesters changed it to "Support the Troops -- Bring Them Home."
Some in the anti-Gulf War movement criticized the change: Cf. Stop
the U.S. War Machine Action Network, "Some Lessons of the Struggle
against the Gulf War," January 1992 <
http://www.oz.net/~vvawai/pdf/Lessons-gulf-war.pdf, recommended by
Michael Hoover.

Postscript: Visit <http://www.holtlaborlibrary.org/anti-war.html
for valuable anti-war resources.