I watched the program about concientious objectors and I was touched by the honesty of the men. Governments spend billions to train young people to fight but spend practically nothing on teaching people on how to make peace. Someday people will honor the peacemakers. Now, to be against war is a sign of cowardice. War is morally wrong and I for one, am educating my young grandsons that killing is wrong and to use their minds to create peace. Thank you for airing the program.
A conscientious objector is not a hero or a coward. S/he simply stands up for his or her beliefs. Personally, I don't think I'd be able to kill someone for any reason. However, I respect those who believe differently; it is because of them that service is usually not mandatory and that I don't have to fight others.
I think that alternative service is a perfectly valid contribution in wartime. In fact, national service should be mandatory for all people in all times. (This does not necessarily mean military service!) If we had th people and focused the resources on improving our nation and the world, we could do great things.
One current example keeps coming to ming - the Darfur genocide crisis. Many people, myself included, have urged the US to get involved somehow. How can we do so without entering an endless war? without provoking a draft? Humanitarian aid is needed and should be given, but it won't stop people from killing each other. what is everyone's view on this issue? Would getting involved in darfur be a "good war?" Can a "good war" really even exist?
It was over 5 years since viewing The Good War but I didnt come across any COs dying at Alcatraz.My father Joseph Schimpf served 2 prison terms shotly after the close of WW1. The second for exposing the Iron Torture Cage in Jan 1920. Even with all the torture of prisoners in Iraq, the SF Chronicle or Rush Limbaugh made no mention of them.//Mark S.
I was struck by the abrupt passing over of draftee 158(I think the name was Wong Fu but don't trust my memory.) The scene quickly switched to John F. Kennedy. We know all about his heroics and antics but what happened to draftee #158, his family etc. Its hard to believe we cannot treat those with different opinions and in the case of the mentally ill capabilities better than we have and do. The film clearly shows a side of our collective behavior that is at best less than ideal and does it well.
Although, I too find it horrible to take the life of another human being I would much rather fight for my freedom and protect my country and lives of innocent people. In WWII the lives of millions innocent people lives were taken due to the simple reason that they were either Jewish or Polish. They were just living their lives until one day when someone decided that they were �inferior races� So for all the people that are so against killing another human being imagine if one day someone decided that you or your children were of �inferior race� and thought it was in their right to send you off to endure years of senseless acts of violence, torture, and murder. I bet you would hope that someone else would decide to fight for you and your right to be free. Keep in mind, that the religious freedom you now have has come to you only because someone fought for that right. I am proud to be an American and support our troops. After watching the documentary about WWII I am grateful that there were so many Americans willing to fight for freedom and protect our country. I shudder when I think about what condition our nation could now be in if everyone decided to be COs and had allowed those brutal dictators to take over our country, strip away our freedom, and crush our democracy. It�s easy to sit back and say you are against the killing of another human being, but people were killed for you and the freedom you have the luxury of having. I�m sure you would be singing a different tune if you had any idea what it would be like to live a life where all your rights were suddenly taken away. If you had to watch your children starve to death while you were also withering away to nothing. Scary thought if you really think about it and I find it hard to believe that in those circumstances you would think it was right to allow that to happen rather then fight for your freedom.
It's been a year since anyone has posted to this discussion. Ken Burns' The War is being broadcast and there is no mention of antiwar protestors and their experiences "at home." Few people know that David Dellinger and others carried on the tradition of anti-war protest from WWII, into the Vietnam era, even to today, and they won't know it from Burns's documentary. My grandfather left Slovakia to escape the Austro-Hungarian pre-WWI draft. My father served 18 months as a WWII war protester in a prison in Sandstone, Minnesota. I rallied, protested and petitioned against Vietnam and the Gulf wars. I have a family tradition, too, but this is the only film that has ever gotten close to telling my family story. Please keep this film available for the children of those soldiers who return from the Middle East, so they know they can make a choice for peace.
My Dad was a CO in WW2 for his own personal philosophical reasons. His local Presbyterian church supported him, but he was not raised a pacifist. It was his own decision. My brother became a CO during Vietnam. Both of them did good work as alternative service (CCC for Dad and working in a hospital for my brother). I was a draft counselor myself to assist others in understanding how to become COs during Vietnam era. I am wondering if other family members of COs, who were not necessarily Quakers, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc, also became COs after a person in their family did.
My ancestors came to this country on the two voyages of the Mayflower to escape religious persecution. Later during our nation�s tragic period of slavery my family were Quakers and Abolitionists.
During the 20th Century my greatgrand father, Frank Carlton Doan, was a Unitarian Minister, a Socialist and Pacifist during the First World War. He preached against violence and was profoundly vilified by the pro-war press. Public sentiment was so ferocious that he felt compelled to offer his resignation to the congregation. The congregation publicly refused to accept the resignation and supported his right to express his views from the pulpit.
My Grandfather and namesake was a surgeon and frequently donated and bartered his services to those in need, as did many Doctors, during the Great Depression. At the outbreak of the Second World War, to old for the draft, he served in the Navy aboard hospital ships saving lives in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.
My father was a nuclear scientist who refused to work on the development of "weapons of mass destruction". His entire career was devoted to peaceful uses of atomic energy. As a child in the 1950s I grew up surrounded by his colleagues: a kind of United Nations of scientists representing all races and creeds. I took for granted that diversity. Free association of races and ideas in my adolescence experience was the norm not the exception.
As a teenager in the early 1960�s the Civil Rights movement and the polarization of race in this country struck me profoundly. I realized that racial discrimination is not only inherently wrong and violated every tenant of my family education but threaten human existence more so than nuclear war.
No small wonder when in October 1967 registering for the Draft during the Vietnam War I found myself faced with a character defining seminal moment. Like my great grand father I examined my conscience and family background and concluded that I could not take a huma
n life. In 1970 I was drafted and served
two years as a Conscientious Objector. That action started me on a journey pursuing Social Justice. My professional career as a municipal planner is an extension and expression of that commitment.
As humans, we have invested in warfare rather than in peace. That investment has failed to function as a deterrent. Each war has sown the seeds of subsequent conflict. WWII, The Good War, is no exception. WWI prepared the groundwork for that conflict. Hitler had to be stopped and the obvious solution was to bear arms. A great evil destroyed; but, the Cold War, regional conflicts, and terrorist activities since bear false testimony to the myopic view that violence resolves conflict. The science of weaponry has perpetuated war and terror rather than reduced the risk of conflict. Violence is contagious and infectious. It is past time to break the cycle of destruction and to cure this ill.
Conscientious Objectors are neither cowards nor heroes, although some may be one or the other. As a group, they speak up to "Wage Peace". Imagine spending 50% of the warfare resources on waging peace; investing in eliminating poverty and all the associated ills of hunger and social injustice. The belief in the sanctity of human life requires helping each other and respecting our differences. Let's stop killing each other.
My grandfather was a CO in WWII and I have nothing but respect for him. Growing up Mennonite I had plenty of chances to learn about Cos and I am happy that PBS provided the rest of the country with that opportunity. I don't believe that the COs who didn't serve were cowards. A coward is a person who backs down from their beliefs, these men were corageous for standing up for theirs. On the flip-side my husband will soon be going to Iraq, and I am also proud of him and all the others, for serving so that military service can remain noncompulsary. For the woman writing a paper on COs and looking for interviews, perhaps you could contact the alumni associations of some Mennonite colleges such as Bethel (KS), Goshen (IN) and Eastern Mennonite University (VA) to find interviewees. Good luck on your thesis.
gelseigh karl-cannon �
i'm about to start a very long journey researching COs in world war II for a thesis paper i'm writing. part of the assignment is including primary sources-- it would be so amazing if anyone who was a CO, relative of one or veteran of WWII would be willing to talk to me about their experiences.
my grandfather served in the war but passed away last year and i regret that I never took the oppurtunity to talk to him if anyone would be willing to talk to me about their epxeriences please e-mail me! thank you so much and i can't wait to hear from you
Being a CO does not even match up with being a coward. It cannot be matched up with being a hero either, because a CO is neither one. Most CO's are deeply rooted in their churches/religions and respect God's wishes not to kill another human being. It is very much a privilege to live in a country as this one that respects the right to freedom of religion.
I am glad that those who are afraid to fight for a country as great as the USA, it certainly would be hard having to baby sit those who are so scared that to just turn over all they have to anyone who wants it. To me being a CO if someone came to your house and demanded you valuables you would just turn them over. If you try to protect what is yours then you are not a CO and a coward and I have no use for them I fought and I would again If I was healthy I would go to Iraq I just hope our troups do not suffer the indiginity by those kind of pwoplw as the Viet Nam Veterans
My father was a CO in WW II �He had a 20 year sentence but was paroled after 2 years. �He apparently many month long stints in solitary. �He was quite a rebel it sounds like. �He was a pacificist and a quiet activist and quite a loner. �He did not talk about it alot to us but did tell some stories. �We were told to keep it in the family because in the 60s all our friend's dads had served. �He also was German but I think his politic beliefs about war overshawdowed his heritage but it may have had some impact to know he would be fighting against his cousins. I really don;t know and can't ask now that he is gone. �His father served on the German side in WWI and was totally disgused with the German govt and decided to immigrate and I know he was persecuted for being German during WWII here is America and became a semi socialist or at least he did work in the early unions. �It was a hard time, His parents would;t visit him in Levenworth. �My parents continued their pacificism beliefs with us and we were active in the anti war movement in Vietnam- went to multitude of marches etc. �He was acive in the civil rights movement to an extent. �He was an archtect by trade = a very independent and strong person. �He did house a lot of anger and my mother always beckoned it back to experiences in prison. �The last march we were in was against the first gult war. �He carried one of his grandchildren on his shoulders on the march. �Family tradition. �Anything else you want to know? �I do have conflicts about the whole thing as I know WW II was such a war against evil and I wonder if he knew what evil was abreast. �It was hard on his whole family.
I'm currently doing a history paper on WWII and i thought it would be interesting to shed some light on the less-known topics: what happened here in America, to the women, the CO's, and the children? And although this site has been wonderfully useful, i am curious about how the children responded to society's reaction of their parents' choices of being CO's and what they went through. if Anyone has some useful information, I'd love to check it out.
I don't think their should be a war going on because it just gets people killed everyday.
Because people kill other people and then there families are really sad and mad about it.
TO John Edens:
With all due respect, I believe you are wrong. From history, we see that whatever sacrifices that people make for the cause of freedom, either that cause has been defiled or new and terrible injustices have come up like a boil. As for Iraq, hopefully the future won't be as Pete townshend of the British rock group THe Who wrote:
See the new boss, same as the old boss.
Carol Ann Cook
This film is a much needed resource in our schools. It is a side of WWII that is seldom taught, and it needs to be taught. COs who object on the basis of religion and do alternative service should be considered heros as they do make a valid contribution in times of war. I consider COs who object in such a manner as to attempt to undermine US policy and government, cowards. One needs to stand up for what one believes regardless of where war is being fought. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this, though. Freedom of Speech means people are allowed to speak whether or not others agree.
I disagree with the Perspectives on 9/11. Most of them talked in circles without really saying much of anything. The successful elections in Iraq are proof that when given the choice of subjecting oneself to terrorism or embracing freedom, people will choose freedom every time! Freedom, however, isn't free -- it comes at a price. Some people are not able to free themselves without the help of others who are willing to pay the cost of freedom for them.
As far as America spending more money on poor countries, we far outspend the rest of the world combined when it comes to helping developing nations. We not only have outspent other nations with financial aid for the tsunami victims, but we are the ones with the troops who are delivering the aid. And it isn't just our government -- it is a lot of faith-based organizations located in the United States as well.
We watched the Ethopian war and did nothing. We watched the Japan take Manchuria and did nothing. We watched Hilter negotiate the conquest of Austria and North Czechoslovakia and then concur all of Czechoslovakia and then outright attach Poland and we did nothing.
We quoted George Washington saying "No Foreign Entanglements".
We had a nation full of COs and pacifists. (1920-41)
And then 50 million people died on our watch.
To the would be COs out there - go study the price paid for pacifism.
[Response to SSGT. Davis (7/20/02)]
In many ways, I can understand your thoughts on CO's, but, with all due respect, you have to understand that war only begets more war. Since April of 2003, when Pres. Bush said that combat was over close to 200 soliders have died. What about those families who have had their loved ones died. Maybe, if you had a son or daughter or any other family member, you would think differently. Look at The Middle East, Northern Ireland and all the other hot spots . ONLY THE INNOCENTS GET KILLED.
With all due respect to anyone involved, to say that you are a Christian and believe killing and war is right is like a vegeterian saying that the slaughter of cows is perfectly respectable. While I do have respect and diginity for the soliders,but to kill is wrong Straight, simple and to the point.
Maybe more of the statistics of the young American dead would put that thought into your heart.
To say CO's are cowards is ABSOLUTELY WRONG A person's conscience and respect to GOD is more important than any other loyalty to human governments.
if you would like to respond to this, I will look to this website for your answer.
I believe there will be one day where peace and love will rule over the earth and soliders will be obsolete.
andrew l'amour firstname.lastname@example.org
those who espouse to believe in love for their neighbor and then selectively go and kill them in the name of war must live with that on their conscience. how can one love and kill at the same time? those who refused to kill because of their personal convictions should be held in as high esteem in this nation as anyone who has carried a weapon. perhaps higher. because this is why america exists -- to allow us to hold and express our personal convictions. their actions validated america's right to be what it is.
i am opposed to war and believe that war never brings the peace promised. if it were so we would not have had to fight the last one. or the one before that. or before that. and so on. now those who say the way of peace will not bring peace should try it. if the world would decide to actually love and deeply care for their neighbor we would have far more peace than all the guns will ever bring. but we worry far too much about protecting our stuff than whether o ur neighbor is suffer ing.
the way to peace is not war; peace is the way.
One of the most courageous persons I know of during WWII is the German Jehovah's Wittness who knew he was going to be beheaded because of his beliefs. And though all he had to do to save himself was deny them, did not.
Crystal A. Bingham
While I don't still agree why we're at war *precisely* at this moment, neither do I agree with the protesters (actors specifially) lobbing baseless insults at Bush in order to humilitate, or those who use violence to protest violence. ('I'm so against violence, I'll use violence or make my point.' VERY effective, eh?)
Searching for information on the pacifist movement post-Pearl Harbor during WWII, while not providing for what I've searched, the comments are interesting. I'm somewhere between SSGT Davis (7/02) and an unnamed post of 1/17/02. I don't believe COs are 'weak and gutless", nor courageous, but it takes something, at least stubbornness, to hold a view that 99% (WWII) don't.
As "1/17/02" states "Killing is never good but some times it must be done to stop other killings. You weren't going to liberate Europe or the Jews w/o shooting Nazis."
I don't hate COs or think they're evil. Having alternative service for them seems a good solution-it supports the country whil e keeping to their ideals. COs remind me of a poem I heard, reportedly that came out of WWII, speaking specifically of the Germans who objected to the removal of Jews, etc. etc. but did not then speak up. Paraphrasing, it begins "When they took the Jews I did not protest because I wasn't a Jew...." goes on through lots of 'people' and ends "when they came for me, there was no one left to speak up for me."
That poem reminds me that being a CO, as SSG Davis more emotionally voiced, is *all well and good* when one lives in a nation where the gov't adheres to a Bill of (Individual) Rights (not saying we've not ever botched that, i.e. Japanese internment, but we learned and that won't occur again). But it wouldn't have flown with Hitler. And what good will being a CO do with the likes of the bin Ladens and Saddaams of the world?
Yes, prayer and working for peaceful solutions to prevent future conflict go hand-in-hand WITH defense. Either without the other is doomed to failure. Wi thout the right to defend onesself, e! vil rolls over all, COs included, killing all, a useless death of no effect save evil's victory. Without prayer and work for peaceful solutions, wars will continue forever.
Regarding COs in today's all volunteer military: CO in an all volunteer force is an oxymoron. Enlistment is a CHOICE. Once made, one cannot 'take the money' then cry 'CO' when combat is called. My husband is active Army and I, an Army Reservist. I pray daily that neither of us are called and that we have a long and happy life together in God's service. To date, my prayers and God's will have been the same. However, if called, we each would go. We gave our word: we signed the contract and raised our hands to protect and defend. Thank you for this opportunity to speak my mind and hear others'.
It is understandable why people think that the only way to protect their way of life is too fight but if you think about it you will see that it can t bring lasting peace. It is beyond mankind s ability to bring about peace because you can t force people to live morally or force them to do what is right. There will always be people who will buck when pressured to conform. The only solution to man s problems is Gods Kingdom. It will vindicate his right alone to rule mankind. No system that has more than one ruler, such as our system today made up of many governments, can ever succeed in maintaining peace for the masses. There is need for only one government with one leader that will be perfect in justice and rule with the best interest of all men. That Government is Gods Kingdom. It will in the near future crush and put an end to all these present governments and it will stand to time indefinite even forever. People need to make a stand for that government today or face elimination by that government when it takes action against those that support these earthly governments.
This comment is in response to the comment made by Randal Rhea dated 4/30/02 saying that God sometimes ordered his people to fight and even to kill an enemy is true but this too is taken out of context. Jehovah God dirrected ancient Israel to use warfare to take possession of the land that he himself designated as their inheritance and to execute people whose depraved practices and defiance of the true God caused Jehovah to view them as being no longer fit to live. These were truly holy wars of Jehovah but that is not true of the carnal warfare of any nation today. The evidence of the lack of God's backing is the loss of innocent life on both sides. The losses sustained during both WW1 and WW2 confirms this fact. By saying that God was backing either of these is a reproach on God since God is fully capable to protect those whom he is backing. To see the change in how Christians should act toward war we should look at the example of the 1st century Christians and their stand. Check out this website: http://w ww.pitt.edu/~pugachev/greatwar/ww1.html and http://www.san.beck.org/WP24-Russell.html
I have been interested in COs of WWII because my father was one, but I never heard much about the whole thing, not from my father nor from history books or popular media. It was as if they never existed.
It was absolutely fascinating to see the film to learn about this part of history. I can't say I understand my father or his motivations any better (he was a very strange man, a genius, a manic depressive before they knew what that was, and an alcoholic) in general I very much admire the men as a group for sticking to their pacifist principles.Faced with the same conditions, I may have refused to go to war myself. With very few exceptions I feel that killing people is not a solution to human problems. In war, the vast majority of casualties are borne by the poor and working classes, acting as pawns of the wealthy.
Phyllis A, Dirks
My background is Mennonite. My husband served as a CO during WWll, and worked as a Smoke Jumper and also at the State Mental Hospital in Rhode Island. He always affirmed his belief that he and his fellow COs affected substantial positive change in the care and treatment of mental patients during their tenure there.
I don't see conscientious objectors as either horoes or cowards, but simply as those who, because of strongly held religious or personal beliefs cannor in good conscience participate in war. The persons whom I know who took this stance all felt very grateful that their nation expressed its humanity by offering them an alternative way to serve.
My own objection to war doesn't relate as much to my current religious beliefs as it does to the obvious fact that war seldom 'works' to make world conditions better over time. It's a temporary fix that appears to appeal to a certain macho segment of the population--most often those who are not, and their sons are not, going to h ave to fight the battles.
They're talking billions of dollars to be committed to a war against Iraq in Congress at present. What if those same billions were to be committed to 'waging peace' instead? I believe with all my heart that a peaceful world would be the result if we committed those funds to respond to the real human needs around the world which are the primary cause of the hatred that engenders most terrorism.
As to the movie, we enjoyed it very much, but wish it could have been more inclusive....
I wrote the following article several days after 9/11 as my response to war. ANOTHER WAY I am holding in my hand a 29 ounce can of peaches. It is just peaches, but it has a special story. The label says "product of Greece". I will come back to the peach story later. This past week end, September 13 - 16, I attended a 50th anniversary of a PAX (Latin for peace) reunion at Syracuse, Indiana. There were nearly 600 people at this reunion. PAX was a program started by the Mennonite denomination in 1951 and became alternative to military service for young men who were conscientious objectors to war. This started out as a home rebuilding program for our former enemies, the Germans, many who lost their homes and were refugees. Since 1951 and for 25 years during both the Korean and Vietnamese wars, more than 1100 served in many countries. This included building houses in Austria and Western Germany, road construction in Peru, Paraguay, and Pakistan, assisting refugees in Aus tria, the Middle East and Vietnam, agricultural and community development projects in Algeria, Greece, and the Congo, and work in many other countries. This was volunteer work that was done to help build bridges of peace and understanding between nations. Six PAX men lost their lives during this period, some killed and others through accidents. At this anniversary celebration we too were saddened by the acts of terrorism against our country. We joined our nation in prayer for those who lost their lives and their families. We also prayed for President Bush and our leaders that they would be given wisdom to respond to this atrocity that would lead to a peaceful resolution. A letter was sent with unanimous consent to President Bush that reads in part: "We observed your call for remembrance and prayer on Sept. 14. We mourn the loss of so many lives and are moved by the sacrifice of so many emergency personnel. We are overwhelmed by the hatred the attack represents. We hope that y ou and you advisors will try to assess why such hatred against the United States exists. � We have been heartened by U. S. foreign policies designed to encourage the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as in Northern Ireland. We are pained when so much of the world sees past American military actions, such as the bombing of Belgrade, as illegitimate because of the loss of civilian lives. We encourage you to review and reform policies, as needed, that have helped to create widespread hatred against America. We pray that you and your colleagues will have the wisdom in developing a response to these recent violent actions. We pray that your faith commitment will help you to lead the nation in reacting in a way that the cycle of violence is not perpetuated."
I went to Germany in 1952 and worked there for nearly two years. In 1954 I went to northwestern Greece to work in an agricultural development project. The Greece project also started in 1952. Just prior to PAX going to Greece, communists had infiltrated the area, and often farmers were killed in their fields. Farming techniques were the same as they had been for 2000 years. Some of the fields had been unplowed for a number of years and the Greek farmers could not break the soil with their oxen. We did it with tractors. We also taught improved farming techniques that significantly increased crop production. Villagers had often been living in hunger when crops were poor. One of our PAX men taught canning as a means of food preservation. Our mothers sent us glass jars and local women were taught to can.
And now for my PEACH story: Glass jars were expensive and another PAX man found metal cans and a small canner. This later grew into a canning factory and now there are six or seven in this valley. Food is now being exported from this Greek valley that nearly 50 years ago could hardly produce enough of their own food. The can of peaches I am holding was one of many shipped here to feed the 600 of us in Syracuse Indiana.
And now I would like to ask some what if questions. What if instead of our Intelligence trying to find Osama bin Laden and his followers and bomb them, we would try to assess the medical needs of the people. Our bombing of Iraq not only killed civilians, but thousands of children died because we refused medical supplies. What if instead of dropping bombs we dropped medical supplies both in Afghanistan and Iraq. If food is needed it could be dropped. Might this gesture possibly open doors for personnel to go into these countries to help? Might Peace Corp work be expanded? Might it eventually open the doors for educators? Yes some lives might be lost. Would it be greater than an all out war? In addition to the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill". Jesus taught us in Luke 6:27, "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." When I was in Greece the Queen came out to v isit us. She was so impressed with the work of PAX that she went to the American Consulate to express her thanks for what we were doing. If we use peaceful means to respond to aggression, is it not possible that we will make friends? If we make friends we don't have to worry about killing the enemy. Are there other creative ways we can establish friendship with Iraq and Afghanistan? Might there be ANOTHER WAY to deal with terrorism? I am e/mailing this to my address list. Possibly if enough people speak for peace, more violence can be averted. My prayer is that we look to Jesus, the Prince of peace, to seek non-violent ways to solve world problems so that our children, grandchildren, and following generations may live in a peaceful world.
SSGT DAVIS email@example.com
I FIND IT TROUBLING TO FIND ANYONE THAT WOULD GLORIFY THE PROSPECT OF NOT DEFENDING THEIR COUNTRY. WHILE OUR NATION IS STILL NOW BEING PLOTTED AGAINST. SHAME IS TOO WEAK OF A WORD. THE PEOPLE THAT WOULD RELISH THE TOHUGHT OF EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD IN AMERICA DEAD VIA THE MOST VIOLENT MEANS NECESSARY. HATE WAR NOT THE WARRIOR RINGS FAMALIAR FROM AFAR. CO's HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TORTURE, TERROR, AND PAIN THAT HAVE BEEN ENDURED BY THOSE THAT HAVE MANNED THE POSTS THAT KEEP THEM SAFE NOW AND IN THE PAST. I WOULD HAVE MORE RESPECT FOR CO's IF THEY WOULD FESS UP AND ADMIT THEY ARE WEAK AND GUTLESS. THEY CANNOT USE THE ARGUMENT THAT THEY STAND ALONE IN THEIR 'STRUGGLE'. THERE ARE PLENTY OF THEM ABOARD. I SUGGEST THAT THE CO's DEMONSTRATE THEIR ALL POWERFUL WEAPON OF LOVE. TAKE A TRIP TO ANY MIDDLE-EASTERN COUNTRY AND PREACH THEIR 'MAKE LOVE NOT WAR' RHETORIC TO AN EXTREMEIST. AS THEY ARE TORTURING, BEHEADING, OR WORSE- EMAIL ME AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES. THE REASON THE U.S. MUST FIGHT ABROAD IS TO PREVENT THESE THINGS FROM HAPPENING HERE. THE CO POPULATION WOULD DRASTICALLY DECREASE IF MARIN COUNTY, CA WAS OCCUPIED BY TERRORISTS. WITHOUT REAL HEROES FIGHTING, THIS COUNTRY WOULD CEASE TO EXIST IN A MATTER OF MONTHS. REST ASSURED, THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AS LONG AS THERE IS BREATH IN THE BODIES OF MEN AND WOMEN THAT UNDERSTAND THE REAL WORLD CONTAINS PEOPLE BENT ON DESTRUCTION OF THE GREATEST, MOST GIVING, LEAST OPPRESSIVE COUNTRY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE HAVING TO ENDURE DISCOMFORT TO ENJOY THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY THEN THOSE CHEAP PLANE TICKETS TO THE MIDDLE-EAST ARE WAITING FOR YOU.
Mark Schimpf firstname.lastname@example.org
In the first few minutes of the program, it is stated that seventeen CO's died at Alcatraz Island. I have found proof in the book/Jailed for Peace by Stephen Kohn that at least one died at Ft Hancock,GA & two at Ft Leavenworth. In a fourth death, covering several paragraphs no site is mentioned. I'm still looking for the Cause of death of the other thirteen. The reason I am so interested in Alcatraz island, because my father was a guard there during WW1./Mark Schimpf//Calumet,MI
I only recently learned that my grandfather, who died when I was very young, was a Conscientious Objector during World War II. I have know of the difficult life he and his wife and children led in the years during and following the war, but had never quite understood why. Reading the transcript of this film has helped me understand a little more about why he may have done what he did. It has also helped me to understand some of the impact it had on the lives of his family in the decades that followed.
For me, this film has proven to be a very informative piece of work even if only in the form of the transcript and the website. I appreciate the tactful and objective way in which you have approached this difficult subject matter. I think most reasonable viewers will see that the film has not attempted to unjustly glorify this unpopular moral, social, and political stance. Instead you have attempted to simply tell an untold story while focusing on some of the positive aspects of the lives of the men involved.
I hope to learn more about the impact that Conscientious Objector status had on these men's lives long after the war. I expect that most of these men (that did not return to a supportive community of like-minded people) had a very difficult time finding gainful employment and experienced a level of social status that has been relatively unknown to those of us who have grown up after the Vietnam War.
I can certainly appreciate the sacrifices made by the many men who fought in World War II as well as all of the other service men and women who have made great sacrifices for our country and the ideals that it represents. I am certain that those who have experienced war first-hand would be among the first to agree that we should all work hard in what ever way we are best able to eliminate the necessity for war forever.
Thank you very much for telling this story.
Elizabeth Clarke Boopopedoop_wink@yahoo.com
When I was in school, I watched different films on the wars, the people for it, and the people against it. I was told in class, that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I am a Christian...I do not believe in murder. If you check the correct translation of the 10 Commandments, it does not say Thou shal not kill....it says Thou shalt not Murder. In this light, and having been in Oklahoma City, having lost many friends in the bombing, having had come close to loosing my own cousin in the Trade center....
I say the following: I can understand why people say "I refuse to fight"... "We must find another way..." But what these people are not taking into consideration, is the mindset of the other person. There are people, that no matter what you do or say....want you dead.
Some of these people make no separation between civilian and military. They hate what the entire country stands for. "We...the civilians...are the target. WE are the evil people to them...we are an abomination to them. It will not matter what you say, or do, or not do...They want you dead. If you do not want to take up a gun and fight...fine, that is your choice. But I ask you please...do not put down those who do. Because if it were not for the people who decided to take up the guns, you would not be living in a free country. Everything you have is due to the sacrifice of thousands, maybe millions of people protecting you.
I know that you say this gives you the right to say whatever you want. But...this is the biggest slap in the face. And for peace-living people...I would not expect that. As I see it, we are so concerned with what others think, that we are not paying attention to what is going on around us.
History IS repeating itself. I know many people from many different countries. All of them are wonderful people. We do not share the same beliefs or practices...but we do respect eachother, and do not push our beliefs on one another. When asked what they would do if they had been attacked, they all came up with the same answer...."you must defend yourselves".
In WWII, we were attacked when and where we knew it was possible, but when we did not expect it. They were also people we felt at the time, miliarily below us. Once again...it happened the same way. They were beneath us...oh yes, this was a previous target...but it won't happen.
When will we learn? Look at the similarities of the past and the present. Do you not see a patern here?
I do not look down on people who decided not to fight. But I do think that those who are fighting could be afforded the same respect. These people happen to think that YOU are worth fighting for...you, your children, your grandchildren....etc..
To take a line from a movie: "Because they stand on that wall and say not on my watch". The greatest show of love is to give your life for another. If we make them stop....Then we Will loose everything we have, and everything/everyone we hold dear.
I was so impressed with this film. The conscientious objectors are truely my heroes. These are the leaders of many of the peace and social justice movements that have been working in the struggle for our freedom. Soldiers do not give us our freedom--they protect the rich's interests (e.g. land, oil, etc.)..if anything...the national guard ...prevents us from practicing our constitutional rights. Tolstoy argues that the only way to a just world is when soldiers refuse to fight. I think he is on to something there!
I want to thank all of the men and women who refused to fight in wars. This is truely the most loving and humane sacrifice to make!
dan shubin email@example.com
A website is now available for a free copy of the book, Conflict of Ages, a Treatise on the Dichotomy between Military Service and Christian Pacifism, on the website: http://www.christianpacifism.com
The book deals with the Old Testament view of warfare, the New Testament teachings of Jesus; the attitude of the early Church toward the military; a history of Christian pacifism from apostolic times to the present, and the present role of the Christian pacifist.
Randal Rhea firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hebrew word that is translated "kill" in the Ten Commandments is literally translated as "murder" or an "intentional killing done for personal motives". It is not they type of killing that a soldier does in battle for one's nation. It is disappointing that some would hide behind the Bible, where God sometimes ordered his people to fight and even to kill an enemy.
Hector Carde email@example.com
Your film the so called "Good War"..(what war is good??)and those who refuse to fight it". was missing some information, please read the books "The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Nazis..persecution, deportation and murder-1933-1945 & "Judging Jehovah's Witnesses..persecution in USA/Supreme Court and let the producers of this (bias) film get their sotry straight about CO'S.
I don't think that ww2 sould even have started cause the was no meening of doing it in the first place. My grandfather died this bast 2 years and he fought in ww2 and he was so scared to do in the war but he stade in it and fought for our country. If we only would be fare for the other countries then maybe it would not have happend at all so this is my comment of this topic.
I feel that ,as Americans, we must maintain this basic right to know what is going on. Whether it be our doctors, lawyers or public officials or anyone else that feels any sense of secrecy or power over us! Where do we draw the line? I am not really sure where. But one thing I am sure of is that we cannot make intelligent decisions without information.
the draft dodgers were a big part of the war also because they all went too canada and didnt fight. my grandpa had known alot of the people who did this but when they were shipped off he lost alot of his friends and now he doesnt even speak too them because they are cowards for not fighting for our country.
Jason Weinman Jasonw501@aol.com
In 1942 George Orwell said of British and American pacifists that "pacifism is objectivly pro-facist." His resoning was simple; the Nazi's wanted the allies to withdraw from the european mainland, and the pacifists wanted the allies to withdraw from the european mainland. If the pacifists had their way, then of course the Nazi's would have won WWII. This in turn would have led immediatly to more genocide. Once Hitler eliminated Gypsies, Jews, and Catholics, he would have undoubtably invaded Britain, where he would have killed everyone who was anglo-saxon. The genocide would continue until Hitler's Master Plan (to kill all non Aryans) succeeded.
valerie moden firstname.lastname@example.org
I can't believe that you would even think of saying that these 'draft dodgers' are couragous. They are anything but couragous. These people stood back and watched as thier fellow american went off to fight a war that as much thier's as anyone elses. They were cowards that were too selfish to help the poor people being discriminated against. Thier weren't just Jewish people being persecuted, there were Gypsies, the disabled, and anyone else that didn't fit hitler's belief. Sure if it is against your religion, I can see where you wouldn't want to go, but by airing this program you are making it seem that all of the other people who were just plain scared were heroes with another agenda when that is not the case.
Camille Clark email@example.com
I am middle aged and the mother of a 19 year old. My father fought in World War 2 and one grandfather fought in World War 1 and assorted ancestors were involved in the Civil War. As far as blood relations I don't have any relatives who were CO's. But I raised my son to be one. Time will only tell how he will act if called to kill his fellow man. Being a female the likelihood is that my faith will not be tested, but I raised my son knowing that he might be persecuted for the stand I want him to take.
CO's are neither heros nor cowards. They are faithful people who do what is right in their eyes. They can keep their heads up when travelling the world or speaking to those from other cultures knowing that they will never agree to kill someone from another country.
For Jehovah's Witnesses it doesn't matter where the war might be being fought. They will not kill another. When one considers history and how frequently people are lied to by their own governments, why should a person blithely follow what their govt. tells them to do anyway? People should obey all laws except those that violate their consciences. the Bible says "Gives Caesar's things to Caeser and God's things to God" That's plain enough isn't it?
In Nazi Germany Jehovah's Witnesses chose to be tortured and or killed rather than help make bullets or land mines for Hitler. One of Jehovah's Witnesses certainly didn't make the land mine my father stepped on in Germany. For that my family should be greatful to Jehovah's Witnesses.
How do you warhawks justify the parts in the Bible where is says "thou shalt not kill" and "love your enemies." I don't see any exceptions like "thou shalt not kill for fun" or "thou shalt love most of your enemies but you can kill them if you deem it necesary." It seems to me that those of you who use the Bible to justify war are reading your own justifications into it.
LuAnn Wyse West firstname.lastname@example.org
I was very moved by your program and the courage it profiled. Beyond the courage expressed at the time it was important to see the contributions these individuals continued to make throughout their life. I myself was raised Mennonite and have an uncle who served in a CPS camp. That part of your story was familiar to me as were several of the people featured in the film. I attended Goshen College where both Sam Yoder and Atlee Beachy (now deceased and whose quote from a writing is included in the documentary)taught and lived out their beliefs for many years. Thank you so much for telling the story of all these courageous men. They have been my heros for most of my life. Finally, is the documentary available for purchase? I would very much like to get it for my elderly uncle. Again, thank yuou for a wonderful and courageous film.
To purchase a home video copy of THE GOOD WAR And Those Who Refused To Fight It, contact Transit Media: 800-343-5540, fax: 201-652-1973. For educational sales contact Bullfrog Films: 800-543-FROG, fax: 610-370-1978, email@example.com
I think when Martin Luther King JR was around every buddy should of just lesson to him and let all of the blacks be free. And I say this even because I am white is because some of my friends are black and people treat her mean and I just think that she should be treated the way I and every one else I know so I just do what I think I should do what my heart wants me to do because I do not like vilonce.
Brian Wagner firstname.lastname@example.org
I take exception to one of your entries, which I quote "COs have to be more courageous than soldiers, because it is much harder to buck the prevailing sentiment than it is to go off to war, not knowing anything about what you are getting into and naively thinking that everything will be OK"
Courage is not throwing up after being given "live" ammunition from your platoon sergeant for the first time, when you are used to receiving blank rounds during training exercises.
Courage is loading that "live" ammunition into your weapon knowing that someone on the other side is doing that same thing that night.
Courage is being able to make your legs work to get you onto the helicopter that is taking you and your closest friends into hostile territory.
Courage is making those same legs get your ass off of that helicopter when it lands.
And once you are off that helo that is when true courage starts to emerge, along with leadership, loyalty and heroism. It is nice to read this board and see all of the members of the "CO Self Admiration Society" congratulate each other on there bravery and courage. The only COs that deserve any respect are the ones that were attached to combat units as medics. Being a medic for a combat unit takes courage, bravery and conviction. To those that served in that capacity I owe my utmost respect. To those that woke up everyday in a nice warm bed, traveled to their nice little assignment cleaning bed pans at the local Veterans hospital, and went home each day to that same warm bed I have this to say: You should thank God that there are people willing to defend this nation that so generously allows you to enjoy the fruits of Democracy and Freedom. I may not agree with what you say but I will give my life to defend your right to say it, because there are people that are willing to die to take it away.
The show ended with a quote, which I barely caught. Would it be possible to reprint it and its author? I've been recently struggling with the attitude of others who stand in judgement of my refusal to stand for a "fight" for justice and retribution. My recollection of the quote, felt like something I'd like to pass on as an example of how I feel.
" Was our protest and our witness of any benefit to society? Perhaps the answer to that lies in the findings of the new science of chaos and complexity, which has discovered that something as apparently insignificant as the fluttering of a butterfly's wings can trigger a cascade of events that in due time drastically affect the weather halfway around the globe. We flapped our butterfly wings. Who can know their effect in our interconnected world?
WWII CO William P. Roberts
Sam Diener email@example.com
I first want to thank and congratulate the directors on a moving, informative film. A number of the friends I watched it with expressed amazement at the history of these, as Einstein called C.O.s, "pioneers of a warless world." A few posters to this forum have already commented on the lack of discussion of Jehovah's Witnesses, who as I undertand it made up approximately half of the 6000 resisters who were jailed. This was unfortunate.
But I haven't seen anyone mention that the directors didn't find room for the stories of any Japanese-American conscientious objectors either. Their story is also a remarkable and poignant one. In Boston, WGBX aired a video on this issue, Conscience and the Constitution, http://www.pbs.org/conscience/index.html but since this film will also be shown without that context, I wish space had been made to explore or mention this crucial part of the story.
Marjorie Castile firstname.lastname@example.org
I eagerly awaited the presentation of your program on KCET on 1-15-02. I agree, it was high time for the general public to learn more about the part COs played in WWII. All that was portrayed was true--yet I have to bring to your attention the lack of mention of those young men who served their country in CO camps by fighting fires, road building, campground establishing, fire suppresion--as my husband did in Toyabe and Angeles National Forests in 1945-1946. AND all at no pay whatsoever. Friends of mine served in mental hospitals, took part in sleep deprivation and food deprivation experiments--all of national and civil public service. Thank you for airing this important facet of history.
Rachel Krezinski email@example.com
I am a freshman at Occidental College, and a member of its Students United for Peace club. I am often questioned about my reasons for promoting peace, and on my alternative suggestions for the current war. I only managed to catch a brief section of "The Good War" film, but it helped me to make sense of some of my feelings about the war. I do wish for a peaceful world, but I am also aware of the fact that war is difficult, if not impossible to avoid. This film did a wonderful job of portraying the people who were able to find a balance between the two opposites. I was particularly moved by the story of the movie actor who gave up his reputation in order to save his belief in peace, but did not denounce his country or fellow Americans...he joined the war as a medic, as a person who helps heal the wounds of war.
I was interested in your documentary on COs. As the friend of several Viet Nam era COs, I want my early 20s son to see that this is a real option, especially during this time of "national drawing-together." Why do so many feel that airing the flag and having an ever-present lapel pin of the flag mean that we all have to support bombing and killing? Were not those men who piloted those planes that killed so many here in the US doing it in the name of a higher cause or justice? Why must our young men also kill in the name of "justice," or be scorned at the mention of questioning or refusal. The possibility of dissent is a topic that is terribly upsetting to even friends and neighbors. One fretted so much that he sent me an email telling me details of the firemen's deaths in the twin towers, suggesting that my upset at the US bombing in Afghanistan negated their contribution. Why must killing lead to killing? Why must an evil means seemingly justify a good end?
Cris Currie firstname.lastname@example.org
An excellent, long overdue program on a subject about which much more can and needs to be said. I hope to see more about non-violence on PBS. Yes COs have to be more courageous than soldiers, because it is much harder to buck the prevailing sentiment than it is to go off to war, not knowing anything about what you are getting into and naively thinking that everything will be OK. Being against the so called war on terrorism is a case in point. I am, and always will be, a war resister, and no matter what the war, it is always very difficult. Instead of rallying around the shedding of blood, I am engaged in teaching others how to resolve conflict non-violently. While it often seems we know so little about non-violent conflict resolution, in reality we know a great deal, but few have bothered to learn. Of course there is much more that we need to know, but that is no excuse for not doing all we can to conscientiously practice what we already know works. Just because a few thousand American lives were lost on Sept. 11, doesn't mean war is suddenly justified, because one's morality can't be defined based on what happens only to Americans, provoked or not. If we truly loved humanity, we would all be dedicating ourselves to learning and practicing the ways of non-violence, every day, not just during times of relative quiet or when our stock portfolios are reaching new highs. This is what being a real CO is all about: learning, living, demonstrating, practicing, experimenting with (not always successfully), and teaching a better way, and doing one's best to never waver from that commitment and vision, no matter what else may be happening in the world. How could one possibly do more for one's country?? In comparison, dying is definitely an overrated contribution.
Marco Funk email@example.com
I first would like to say that I have not seen the PBS program about the CO's in WWII, but I would like to share a little about my thoughts on pacifism and peacemaking.
I am a Mennonite Christian and I am 21 years old. I have not had to 'apply' my CO status in any way, but I am granted CO status by virtue of being a baptized Mennonite. The reason that I am a pacifist is because Jesus was a pacifist. Simple as that. My problem is that 95% of Christians don't take this aspect of Jesus' character seriously, or they say that it isn't relevant for social ethics. A modest proposal for peace: That all Christians will stop killing each other!!!
Lee H. Lybarger Lybarger@midohio.net
This PBS program was never aired in my local area (WOSU, Columbus, OH). How can I purchase the video tape of it? I first learned about it in the N.Y.Times 1/13/02. I was a C.O. in the mid 1950's following the end of the Korean War. I did alternative service for the Presbyterian Church in rural Puerto Rico. I have now come to a more nuanced point of view after many years of reading and reflecting especially on Reinhold Niebuhr's writings. My adult children are all pacifists however. I father-in-law, out of his Mennonite background, worked through the FOR with CPS volunteers at Wooster, OH during W.W. II.
((To purchase a home video copy of THE GOOD WAR And Those Who Refused To Fight It, contact Transit Media: 800-343-5540, fax: 201-652-1973. For educational sales contact Bullfrog Films: 800-543-FROG, fax: 610-370-1978, firstname.lastname@example.org))