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Don’t glorify the inglorious

September 22, 2013

Dear Sir,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond to a column written by Mr Al Seymour entitled “More Than a military unit.” In that column the Regiment is extolled as an institution Bermuda should be proud of as it has had such a positive influence on so many young men that have passed through its ranks. Nothing could be further from the truth and it is astonishing the writer would continue to promote such an institution at this stage. The question is why? Why would a person who would normally abhor what goes on at Warwick Camp in any other circumstances accept it simply because it is supposed to provide discipline for our young men.

It was Joseph Goebbels, the diabolical Nazi propagandist, who firmly believed that if you tell a lie big enough and often enough, that eventually it becomes the truth. Unfortunately many still believe the big lie that the Regiment is something that it is not. On the other side we have the human rights activist Dr Martin Luther King who wrote,” There is nothing more dangerous in this world than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” A good example of this is seen in Mr Seymour's continued support of an institution that has victimised an innumerable amount of young men, and their parents, over the past 48 years.

This strongly suggests someone has been brainwashed and is therefore incapable of being rational when it comes to the Regiment. The two classical signs of brainwashing are 1) a distorted perception of reality, and 2) a refusal to accept any information which challenges that perception. Both are seen throughout the article which could aptly be described as grossly misleading. Basically his perception of the Regiment is based on a conversation he had with a young man who was on a path of self destruction and goose bumps he got while watching a parade in Washington, DC. (Had he submitted this article for grading in a high school journalism class he would have received an F for failing to do proper research.)

So based on this one conversation with one young man who he says had been miraculously converted he draws the conclusion that this current system is tremendously beneficial to society. His words concerning this conversation, “..that he was on a path of self destruction, which was turned around the moment he was exposed to what standards the army expected”.

The moment he was exposed to army standards this young man's life was turned around. Truly a hallelujah, thank you Jesus, born again experience. Let's just close all the churches, stop the preaching as the Regiment has this phenomenal ability to miraculously transform the lives of young people. That's what (Member of Parliament) Michael Scott was talking about when he said the Regiment saves two hundred young men from going to prison every year. Surely our young women should be afforded this benefit — as otherwise our Government is guilty of blatant gender discrimination.

Back to reality: this is vintage Regiment propaganda spewed out ad nauseam over the years. They love to take credit for anyone who does well that has passed through their ranks. However, this is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, it ignores the tremendous contribution that parents have made having groomed their children all of their lives. And after all it is the responsibility of parents to instil discipline in children not a government institution. Furthermore, why should young men whose parents have done a good job have their rights taken away to help the few whose parents failed miserably? That's nonsense.

Secondly, the Regiment is very hypocritical in this regard. On the one hand they take credit for those who have done well but on the other they don't take responsibility for those who have not. For many that served as both conscripts and officers have gone on to commit the most heinous crimes. Were they not exposed to this standard the army expects?

Does the Regiment take responsibility for Glenn Brangman who was convicted of four counts of sexual assault on a teenager? Do they take responsibility for Anthony Steede who was convicted, and jailed, for having an affair with a young girl who was under the age of consent? Do they take responsibility for Dennis Robinson who was convicted for his part in a most brutal double murder?

These are but a few names on this inglorious institution's long list of Hall of Shame. Does the Regiment take credit for David Burch, the man who sneaked four men into the Island under the cover of darkness causing an uproar, as many were appalled at the deceitfulness of such action.

Thirdly, the Regiment does not take responsibility for the many lives which have been corrupted over the years. Many young men entered the gates at Warwick Camp having never drank alcohol, smoked, or used excessive profanity yet at the end of boot camp are doing all of the above.

Many visit strip joints and pick up prostitutes for the very first time in their lives while on overseas trips with the Regiment. Parents have told me of their sons coming home during the break from boot camp and accidentally cursing because that's all they heard while at the camp. So I would like Mr Seymour to explain how he could possibly describe such an institution as “..a vital guidepost in keeping such things as discipline, respect, and responsibility alive for many years to come.”

Nothing could be further from the truth! There is absolutely nothing respectful about an institution that tramples on so many human rights. That has inflicted so much abuse on so many for so long. This includes emotional, physical and even allegations of sexual abuse. What about the parents of young men who have lost their minds at Warwick Camp? What about those who have been imprisoned for failing to show up for parade drills so that Mr Seymour can “feel a rush of excitement and pride that no words can explain”.

His column was based on that one conversation with one man while this column is based on hundreds of victims I've spoken to over the past eights years. Space does not permit me to mention the many heartbreaking stories people have shared with me over this period of time. It is indeed sad and a black mark on Bermuda. There is no pride in conscription, only shame. The white government which put it in place in 1965 should be ashamed. The black government that kept it in place should be ashamed. Bermuda should be ashamed.

In closing I present the acid test for those who hypocritically support this institution. If it's so great then of course they send their own sons up there. I'm going out on a limb but I'm almost certain Mr Seymour did not. He no doubt suffers from the “Alex Scott Syndrome” which says the Regiment is good for everyone else's sons but not their own. As my mother says so often: “If everybody who supports the Regiment would send their own sons up there would be no need for conscription.”

How ironic! Perhaps Mr Seymour should talk to the many victims of this current system before putting pen to paper and trying to glorify the inglorious. Yes it is an opinion column but there should still be proper research done when writing on any subject. Then he would appreciate what so many already know from personal experience and being exposed to the truth. The Bermuda Regiment is not what it seems.

LARRY MARSHALL SR

Bermudians Against the Draft

Photo by Akil Simmons Bermuda Regiment soldiers perform a drill during the recent change of command ceremony.

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Published September 24, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 23, 2013 at 7:44 pm)

Don’t glorify the inglorious

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