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  in the US today:
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in their own words

The courage that brings peace. Norman Gaudie WW1 CO

Ever thus
Life and Death of Drojjin E. Poppoff


Text extract from Voices for Peace interactive CD

Conscientious objectors are not popular with the US military. During the Gulf War in 1991, COs were given a hard time. In 2003 the new war in Iraq meant that many reservist soldiers were called up ‘in numbers not seen since World War II’. Many did not obey the summons. Many of those that did, and were posted to Iraq, later fled to Canada as refugees. They were unhappy about the Iraq invasion. As one said, ‘never in a million years did I think we would go to war with somebody who had done nothing to us’.

One young Costa Rican had settled in Florida when he was 18. Like many of the USA’s more disadvantaged citizens, he joined the army because it promised him education at university. He was in his last year of study when his unit was activated and sent to Iraq. He was deeply troubled by his experience there. ‘When I saw with my own eyes what war can do to people, a real change took place within me. My experience of war has changed me. I learned that the fear of dying has the power to turn soldiers into real killing machines. In a combat environment it becomes almost impossible to consider things like acting strictly in self-defence. My feelings about the war dictated that I could no longer be a part of it. By putting my weapon down I chose to reassert myself as a human being.’ He did not return to Iraq after being allowed home on leave. He was later charged with desertion, deprived of army pay, and sentenced to a year in prison.

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