My Time as a Vietnam War-era Conscientious Objector

A testimony we need now.

1960s: Days of Rage

Conscientious objector William White being dragged from his home in Sydney after being arrested, 1966

“When I chose to apply for conscientious objector status in 1969 during the height of the Vietnam War, I was a teenager and in a quandary: How was I to prove my objection to conscription on non-religious grounds? Although I’d been raised a Catholic, at age 17 I began calling myself an agnostic. Years later I would reclaim my Christian identification. But that year the challenge was to prove my objections to war based on philosophical principles. Before 1971, when the U.S. Supreme Court permitted conscientious objector status for men whose pacifism was not based on specific religious beliefs, the odds were definitely stacked against such a stance. A non-combatant status for COs was approved during World War I, but for pacifists who wanted no part of the military — even as a non-combatant —…

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Published by chrislombardi

Journalist, novelist, educator.

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