Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Postlude: Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting

Gara, from Wilmington College
I posted about Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting last Friday, but realized that I wanted to news of a particular event.  On Saturday, Larry Gara and his wife Lenna Mae spoke in a session titled "Simply Speaking."  Larry is a retired Wilmington College professor and editor of a recently published book A Few Small Candles: War Resistors of World War I Tell Their Stories.  Living in Richmond, I have met several people who were contentious objectors during World War II or the Vietnam War. 

What I didn't know was that there were some who went one step beyond and refused to register for the draft as contentious objectors and were sent to prison for "non-registration."  Larry Gara was himself a war resistor and spent three years in a federal prison.  Once released, he was re-arrested for continuing to refuse to register.  Finally, while teaching at Bluffton University, he spoke with a student who had already refused to sign up for the draft and encouraged him, leading to another arrest, trial, and 18-month prison term.

Gara spoke about his time in prison, his trials, his decision not to sign up for the draft, working towards racial reconciliation, and the evolution of laws regarding draft resistance.  It's well worth your time to read the Wilmington College press release about the honorary PhD they awarded him from a few years back, and to learn a little more about this topic.

Valerie Hurwitz is Director of Recruitment and Admissions at Earlham School of Religion. She lives in Richmond, Indiana and serves as choir director at West Richmond Friends Meeting.

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