In March of 2008, 250 veterans and active duty soldiers marked the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by gathering in Washington D.C. to testify from their own experience about the nature of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Inspired by the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation held by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, they too sought to express their opposition to those wars with their first-hand accounts, bearing witness with voices not generally heard.
This is Where We Take Our Stand is a portrait of three participants. It follows their lives for six weeks leading to the event and afterward; an active duty female soldier, a nine-year National Guard veteran, and a three-tour former Marine. This is their story.
For three months prior to the event, the filmmakers had total, unprecedented access to the people and events of Winter Soldier. They fanned out across the country, following dozens of veterans and soldiers as they fought external obstacles and their own demons to make this the historic event it was.
In one sense it was déjà vu all over again, but in many ways this was quite different from the first Winter Soldier. To the extent that people know about opposition to the Vietnam War among soldiers and veterans, the assumption is often made that it was due to the fact soldier were drafted then. But while the movement then was in fact driven largely by those who had volunteered for duty, in today's "all volunteer army," the stakes are much higher for these veterans who underwent a profound transformation by the time they returned home. Against tremendous odds, they brought the voices of the veterans themselves into the debate.
What made hundreds of veterans take this incendiary and dangerous step, risking their own lives and futures to denounce what they has been part of? A few, maybe; even dozens; but hundreds? Not only that, but their emphasis was not mainly on the trauma that they faced, but that suffered by the "enemy," the civilian population of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even more startling, the soldiers and veterans who came together with such unified purpose were themselves from a wide variety of backgrounds, experience, and — most importantly — political views. Far from a stereotypical "anti-war" crowd, they fought through and overcame a myriad of issues and conflicts to do something they believed was bigger than all of them.
"I just want to say that I am sorry for the hate and destruction I have inflicted on people, and the hate and destruction that others have inflicted on people. At one point it was okay, but reality has shown that it is not — and until people hear what is going on in this war, it will continue to happen and people will continue to die. I am sorry for the things that I did, I am no longer the monster that I once was."
— Jon Turner, U.S. Army, at Winter Soldier/Iraq & Afghanistan
- David ZeigerProducer/Director
- Bestor CramProducer/Director