Synopsis by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
There have been conscientious objectors in all American wars, and World War II was no different. While many, like the Quakers and the Amish, had a long history of refusing to fight, this refusal proved more troublesome when the majority saw World War II as "the good war." Many conscientious objectors, or C.O.'s, attempted to show support for the cause by volunteering for difficult jobs to disprove disloyalty. Many worked in mental hospitals, enlisted in medical experiment programs, and became fire fighters. Twenty-five thousand joined the armed services as non-combatants, including actor Lew Ayres who worked with a medical unit. Others worked in Civilian Public Service, a program operated by churches. Seven thousand C.O.'s were jailed for as long as four years for refusing alternative service or objecting to the draft. Following the war, C.O.'s replaced soldiers in Europe, became involved in the civil rights movement, and later formed protests against the Vietnam war. The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It includes interviews with a number of conscientious objectors.
conscientious-objector, non-violence, pacifism, war