What happened to Vietnam era young men who fled the country as conscientious objectors?
Many conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War fled to Canada and other countries as a matter of conscience. I'm wondering what happened to them? Did most return to the US after the war? Did they become activists in other ways? I have a friend whose husband was a conscientious objector and joined the Peace Corps and worked in Thailand and Malaysia for several years. His son grew up to join the Peace Corps as well and the whole family is active in fighting for social justice. I'm wondering about the hundreds of others.
At the risk of being labeled insensitive, not all who fled the draft (and that's what they did) were conscientious objectors. You had to file paperwork to be a real conscientious objector. The others just took off. I think some president gave them amnesty (and probably) a parade.
I would say that most came back since the U.S. is where most of their family was. I wonder how many who lost their limbs or their minds, wish that they would have went to Canada instead. Although is has not ended! Teens are not forced to fight unless they voluntarily join the armed forces. They are then forced to invade other lands and kill other people. What happens to them.
You can look it up and see that some die while attempting to kill others. But most come back to America and kill themselves every 80 minutes. Huffington Post says: "Military suicides have increased since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Center for a New American Security Suicide report. In the fiscal year 2009 alone, 1,868 veterans of these wars have made suicide attempts, according to armytimes.com.
A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, a fact the study attributes to the VA."
Years later one of the presidents (forget which one) officially forgave them.
September 16th, 1974 was when President Ford issued a conditional amnesty to 'draft dodgers'. On January 21st, 1977, President Carter issued a full and unconditional amnesty to these individuals.
To refuse to take part in war is admirable.
I remember that and it really made me mad. I went over there and served my time in Nam and did my duty. "To refuse to take part in war is admirable." Some would call it cowardice.
It is not cowardice to not do blindly what you are told by your government. I admire soldiers who feel called to serve, but I also know several of our wars have served absolutely no purpose. It takes courage to stand up for what you think is right.
I ran out of space to finish what I was saying. I wanted to add - it's my belief that refusing to take part in war is admirable no matter what the reasoning a person has to do so.
In my opinion it's heroic, as war is not an answer.
War is not the way? So who will stop the next Adolf Hitler?
Stopping Hitler was a just cause - what did we gain from Vietnam? Iraq? Most wars are pointless and only serve to line the pockets of war profiteers at the expense of fine young men/women.
On Sept. 16, 1974, President Gerald R. Ford issued a proclamation that offered amnesty to those who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. Mr. Ford also granted amnesty to those in the military who deserted their duty while serving. However, the amnesty came with certain conditions, namely that those involved agreed to reaffirm their allegiance to the United States and serve two years working in a public service job.
A draft is institutionalized slavery. How bizarre that our country after losing over 500,000 people to abolish it would have it. I really find it bizarre in the context of communism: "we are going to enslave you to go fight on foreign soil to make other men free". Now after abolition many slaves still worked in that kind of farming capacity. Now after the draft many young men and women join the military and fulfill the function.
The problem is that civil disobedience against such bizarre government action is the only voice many have. It is also our right to leave a country whose laws we cannot abide by. America invited these people back and I understand most did come back, as free men. We should thank them for helping to change our laws for the better. But I must say that to this day I have never met one.
History will show most of them were pardoned by Carter during his administration but I love all the anti American sentiment spew from the liberal passivism! I served this country and I enjoy the freedom the men and women that died for it provide meIt’s easy to sit back and protest the draft and the soldiers that served this country so others can have the freedom to say what they want. perhaps if you dislike America so much; you should defect to Yugoslavia or Cuba and live under their "Freedom" Ill stay here!!!
I enlisted and got rejected. No I was a perfect candidate, but waiting to become 18 the war got ended. So there was a freeze on new recruits. I really appreciate those who serve, but I am glad life worked out the way it did.
It's great that America is for the most part 'free'. This doesn't dispute the fact that there must be a better way than war.
Funny I come from a long family line of both liberal and conservative soldiers - I guess only the conservative ones were patriotic enough? smh... Objecting to something that is wrong is wholly American by the way - freedom of speech!
To each person answering this question - my respect to you for expressing your opinion. I started this series of hubs,"Love Letters from Vietnam," to tell the story of two young people in love during war. Tim and I were caught in the middle of that war, and I can tell you that for us, it was truly a moral wrenching decision-making process. To those here who do not believe that there were truly "conscientious" objectors, I can tell you that for us, Tim's participation in the war WAS a matter of conscience. We knew as did all our friends, that we had NO CLEAR understanding of what the war was about. We attended lectures to find out, we read newspapers and watched the news; we still didn't understand. Tim had to decide whether he believed reports of South Vietnamese citizens hung in the square which would justify his participation in his mind or watch the effects of our bombing on innocent civilians and decide the morality of THAT. I had to decide whether or not I could be in a relationship with someone who had enlisted in the Army before I had known, and had a high probability being part of that war. During the course of the war and Tim's deployment to Vietnam, I continued researching and decided that it was more patriotic for me to protest the subsequent bombing of Cambodia than to not protest. So while my husband fought, I took around petitions. You have to remember, that we weren't making decisions frivolously. There were priests on the pulpits speaking of the immorality of participating in unjust wars.
This is nothing new. "All Quiet on the Western Front" portrays the soldiers' angst long ago. Perhaps the most revealing book of a Vietnam soldier's dilemma is Tim O'Brien's, "The Things they Carried." In one line he says something to the effect of "I went to the war because I was embarrassed not to." No one should go to war because they are embarrassed not to. At the very, very least, the lesson learned, for me, is that one should never participate in a war he or she does not clearly understand.
Forty years later, there our groups diffusing the bombs still left in Vietnam. And now I have the moral decision of whether or not I am brave enough to join them. It all IS and should be a matter of conscience.
All that being said, there must STILL be an untold stories out there from conscientious objectors of that era, and I'd love to hear them.
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