First I’d like to share what my Friend Evalyn Kellum, of North Meadow Circle of Friends, where I attended when I was living in Indianapolis, wrote about An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription:
Thank you for sending your struggle with conscription. It had been a long time since I read the letter signed by all those young men. In looking down through the list of men who signed that letter, it is amazing how many of them continued to have such a direct influence on Friends and others through out their lives. They directly influenced Quakers through out their lives. They also continued to speak out on issues and act on their beliefs for the rest of their lives.
I actually remember thinking in my late teens and early adulthood that I wished I could be drafted in order to sign such a statement! That statement and all those Quaker men, who were conscription age at that time affected so much in their life times. They helped shape each of the major Quaker institutions of the time and their impact continues to do so.
I’m in Madison, Wisconsin, and my brother Randy also spoke about what an powerful letter that is.
One of the reasons I shared the Epistle was because I had written that out as my journal entry November 8, 1969. It was also a large influence on my thinking about conscription.
Even though I was pretty much convinced that draft resistance was what I was being led to do, when it came time when I was required to register, I hadn’t reached the point where I could actually refuse to do so. The main reason was because I had not been able to get my family to be able to accept the decision, yet. My parents were definitely against all war, and were encouraging me to be a conscientious objector. They were not comfortable with the idea of me being in prison, and the life long consequences of a felony conviction.
So it was really hard for me to register for the Selective Service System. I was very unhappy after having done so. But I knew I could, and probably would, turn in my draft cards eventually.
In the meantime, Don Laughlin, and my classmate and close friend Ron Ellyson, wrote letters to my draft board to support my application for conscientious objector status. Such letters were a required part of the process.