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In 2003 the Pentagon tried to throw me in jail for defending the rights enumerated in the US Constitution. Had that incarceration attempt proceeded, we may have set a precedent to protect our freedoms today. Unfortunately, I did not end up in jail, and no precedent was established.
I was a Captain assigned to the Pentagon’s Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs division, and the war in Iraq had once again become hot. A directive was sent requiring all of the military, regardless of how threatened they were, to get a five-shot series of vaccinations that were believed to deter anthrax infection. Many rumors suggested the real reason for the order was to line the vaccination contractor’s pockets. At the same time, US Army special forces were being required for the first time to receive transponder implants inside their arms so that they could be traced by aircraft and would not become victims of friendly fire in combat.
While I understood the utility of vaccinations and transponder devices in a combat zone, I worried that granting the military the ability to force unnecessary vaccinations and implants would eventually lead to the government having the power to do similar things to the civilian population. Knowing that my vow to become an officer meant I was to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, rather than a pledge to do whatever I was told by my superiors, I had to take a measured stand against the mandatory vaccinations for all military members.
I informed my boss Colonel M. that I would not take the vaccination because in effect it meant agreeing the government could put whatever they wished into my body. While I would gladly accept the vaccination if I were deploying, since my life and those who depended on my life would be better protected, I believed vaccinating people sitting behind desks in the United States seemed ridiculous and a violation of our basic rights.
My boss at first cajoled me and then told me I was refusing a direct order. She then decided it was impolitic to give me the order herself, so she had some unknown major in the Mission Support Squadron (like HR for the military) issue me the order to be vaccinated in written form. I declined the order and was given legal council for a trial. Numerous people, my boss and the appointed lawyer among them, explained how everyone who had refused the order had been incarcerated for 1-3 years. They said I should consider the well-being of my pregnant wife and daughter. I replied that I felt duty-bound by the oath I took at the US Air Force Academy to defend the Constitution. Surely an involuntary injection despite my facing no imminent threat violated my Constitutional right to life, liberty, and to property (my own body), to say nothing of my pursuit of happiness.
The military was very reluctant to press the matter further, possibly because my job at the Pentagon was to communicate with the media. They therefore strategically decided to deploy me to Qatar in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Due to my pending deployment, I lived up to my word and agreed to the vaccinations and the charges against me were promptly dropped as I left for the Middle East.
This personal struggle to discover what is right and act upon it has great relevance for today. If no new legislation protecting individual rights is passed, we are looking at a de facto mandatory vaccination for COVID-19. While vaccinations started out being desired and voluntary, it is easy to see it evolving into being required for government positions, to attend public schools, for plane transportation, and eventually may be required for all public transportation.
Only as a unified voice will Americans be able to insist these freedoms not be forfeited. We must let our officials know that whether or not we took the vaccine, we stand for people to freely make such decisions and not be coerced. If we do not take a stand with regard to freedom to decide what goes into our bodies, we will be knocking down the first domino in a chain that is sure to end in dystopian disaster. Whether you are for or against vaccinations, I believe everyone who is for freedom should adhere to Benjamin Franklin’s advice at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Please call your elected officials and congratulate them for providing the vaccine in record time, but also tell them we object to the government or anyone else imposing it upon citizens. Ask for laws to be passed that insist we not discriminate on the basis of vaccination. This is a vital step if we wish to remain the land of the free and the home of the brave instead of becoming the land of the tracked and the home of the financially enslaved.
Dr. Peter A. Kerr is the Dean of the School of Business and Leadership at Colorado Christian University and fellow of the Centennial Institute. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, he served at the Pentagon and in the Middle East during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he was the Chief Media Liaison officer for all Outdoor Games during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He is also the founder of KerrCommunications and the author of numerous books including Why the Coronavirus?. All ideas and opinions expressed here are his alone and should not be attributed to any other person or institution.
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