A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories

A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories

A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories

A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories

Synopsis

Little is known about more than 6,000 men who openly refused to enter military service during World War II because of their convictions against killing. In A Few Small Candles, ten men tell why they resisted, what happened to them, and how they feel about that experience today. Their stories detail the resister's struggles against racial segregation in prison, as well as how they instigated work and hunger strikes to demonstrates against other prison injustices.

This is a unique collection of memories that illuminates the American homefront during World War II and provides an important source for those interested in the American peace movement.

Excerpt

The term "good war" was not used during the years of World War II. To the generation that came of age during that terrible time, it was just another war, a war that would take lives and destroy the futures of millions throughout the world. The war followed years of disillusionment with World War I and two decades of antiwar writing and activity in the United States. Even after fighting began in Europe, there was an intense debate in the United States over America’s role. A combination of antiwar sentiment and isolationism formed a public opinion determined to keep the United States out of the conflict. It was only after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that the argument ended.

In 1940, a year before the United States entered the war, Congress passed the nation’s first peacetime conscription law. The Selective Training and Service Act provided legal options for any objector who “by reason of religious training and belief [was] conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form.” Classification 1-AO was for those objectors willing to serve as medical corpsmen in the military, an option preferred by members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The 4-E classification was for those who would not accept military service but who were willing to do civilian work of “national importance.” Objectors choosing such service, if they were granted that privilege by their draft boards, were sent to Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps. Nominally under the control of one or another of the historic peace churches, with each objector or his sponsor paying thirty-five dollars a month for his keep, the camps were in fact controlled by Selective Service and headed by the army’s General Lewis B. Hershey. The camps were located in parks and other areas removed from large populations, leading some objectors . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.