A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories

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Larry Gara, Lenna Mae Gara
Kent State University Press, 1999 - 207 pages
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Little is known about those who openly refused to enter military service in World War II because of their convictions against killing. While many of those men accepted alternative civilian service, more than 6,000 were incarcerated with sentences ranging from a few months to five years. Some were tried, convicted, and reimprisoned for essentially the same offense--resisting induction into the armed forces--after their initial release.

In A Few Small Candles, ten men tell why they resisted, what happened to them, and how they feel about that experience today. Their stories detail the resisters' struggles against racial segregation in prison, as well as how they instigated work and hunger strikes to demonstrate against other prison injustices. Each of the ten has remained active in various causes relating to peace and social justice.

This is a unique collection of memoirs that illuminated the American homefront during World War II and provides an important source for those interested in the American peace movement.

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Contents

Prison Memoir
1
Why I Refused to Register in the October 1940 Draft and a Little of What It Led To
20
My Resistance to World War II
38
My War and My Peace
53
My War on War
78
War Resistance in World War II
98
Reflections of a Religious War Objector Half a Century Later
130
Prison and Butterfly Wings
152
How the War Changed My Life
174
My Story of World War II
194
Selected Additional Readings
205
Copyright

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Page 151 - Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home, Lead Thou me on! Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene, — one step enough for me.
Page 23 - I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
Page 174 - Mirek says that the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
Page 163 - PS — I hope for the best — but let what will come the sun will continue to rise In the East and set in the West — and I trust In a kind Providence to guide and direct me and in a virtuous people's support.
Page 161 - Elrington," said he, after a pause, " that the peril you have been in will influence your future life ; and that this severe trial will not be thrown away upon you." " I trust not, Sir," replied I. " I feel that it has been good for me to have been afflicted. I believe that I have been indebted to your exertions for my deliverance.
Page 167 - I cherish, let the reader understand that when that fineness has become perfectly natural, ie, when I have become incapable of evil and when nothing harsh or haughty occupies, be it momentarily, my thought-world, then and not till then, my non-violence will move all the hearts of all the world.
Page 23 - Is there any man, woman or child in America — let me repeat, is there any child — who does not know that this was an industrial and commercial war?" I knew those words by heart long before the United States came close to entering what is known as the Second World War. And I also knew the words of Debs which told me that going to prison could have desirable spiritual consequences.
Page 188 - I'd never joined this strike.' A moan, a growl: 'Yea, the same for me.' Two weeks, three weeks, the eighteen of us in cells.. .. Sixty days passed. We heard nothing from the local offi-cials We were accomplishing nothing How could we win?
Page 169 - The worker must pass to his work in the terrible town: But I fear not, nay, and I fear not the thing to be done; I am strong with the strength of my lord the Sun: How dark, how dark soever the race that must needs be run, I am lit with the sun.

About the author (1999)

Larry Gara, a historian, teacher, and part-time activist, lives with his wife, Lenna Mae Gara, a freelance writer and community activist, in Wilmington, Ohio, where he retired from Wilmington College after 40 years in the classroom. He is concerned that the record of active nonviolence becomes more visible as an important part of U.S. history.

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