Conscientious Objectors and Those Who Went in their Place

To Whom It May Concern:

"I have to go because if I don't, someone else will have to go in my place."
--- Jeffery Gurvitz, a U.S soldier killed in Vietnam in '68.)

As a conscientious objector or war resister, have you given any thought to who might have gone in your place, and whether his or her name is on the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and in the book at the Abbey chapel?

There is yet another level of understanding the term "unknown soldier" when one considers that, though they never had to go to Vietnam and kill anyone, a soldier may, indeed, have been killed because he or she went in your place. While most people may not be naturally drawn to concern themselves with such matters, it is our conscientious duty as pacifists to do no less.

The name of this "unknown soldier" may be entered in the Vietnam Book at the Abbey chapel which includes the names of 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam. There is no way of knowing who went in your place, and if he or she made it home alive.

Only God knows.

--- Lewis Randa, discharged from the military as a conscientious objector in 1971.)

Pulled from The Peace Abbey.