Draft Resistance

Draft Resistors

Draft resisters represent another category of response to involvement in the military.

Mennonite resisters tapped a geyser of emotion, criticism and bewilderment.

Most Mennonites who were drafted during the Vietnam War took advantage of their legal option and chose to enter an alternative service project. However, at least 50 young Mennonite men took the path of noncooperation with the draft during this intense time. In refusing to take advantage of the alternative their parents had struggled to make legal a generation earlier, the Mennonite resisters tapped a geyser of emotion, criticism and bewilderment. They became dissidents even in their Mennonite subculture of religious nonconformity.

Some were driven by the sense that it had become too easy for young Mennonites to just take advantage of their alternative service privilege, keep quiet about the war, while their high school friends were being killed in the forests of Southeast Asia. One who refused to register during this time said that if he was to be consistent in renouncing his own participation in war, he also had to oppose everybody’s participation in war. (After all, wasn’t someone else taking your place in the army, as had happened to some Mennonites during the Civil War?) The only way he could see to oppose the war was to refuse to register; he didn’t want to cooperate with a system that was forcing people to go to war.

(From The Path of Most Resistance, by Melissa Miller and Phil M. Shenk, Herald Press, 1982)

Draft_Protest_1968-171x300For the story of one draft resister, read Sam Steiner’s story.