Refusing War, Affirming Peace
One of the untold stories of America’s World War II experience belongs to the thousands who refused military service for reasons of conscience, instead serving their country through non-military alternate service. Refusing War, Affirming Peace offers an intimate view of a single Civilian Public Service Camp, Camp #21 at Cascade Locks, Oregon, one of the largest and longest-serving camps in the system—and one of the most unusual.
Under the leadership of a remarkable director, Rev. Mark Y. Schrock, and some outstanding camp leaders, the men at Camp #21 created a vibrant community. Despite the requisite long days of physical labor, the men developed a strong educational program, published a newspaper and a literary magazine, produced plays and concerts, and participated in a special school and research project called the School of Pacifist Living. They also challenged the Selective Service System in two political protests—one concerning the threatened removal of a Japanese American, George Yamada, and a second concerning a war-related work project. Their story shows the CPS system at its best.
Jeffrey Kovac’s thorough research has resulted in one of the very few histories of a single Civilian Public Service Camp, shedding light on a generation of men who, during the “good war,” created a community for peace. Refusing War is an important contribution to World War II history, peace studies, and the history of the Pacific Northwest.
About the author
Jeffrey Kovac a professor of chemistry at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. A recognized expert on scientific ethics, he is the author of The Ethical Chemist: Professionalism and Ethics in Science. His personal commitment to the philosophy of nonviolence led him to research and write about World War II conscientious objectors. The personal letters and papers of Kovac’s father-in-law, Charles Davis, who was a conscientious objector at Cascade Locks, have greatly enriched the author’s research.
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“Refusing War, Affirming Peace not only fleshes out a fascinating chapter in Oregon’s history and illuminates a neglected facet of the nation’s World War II experience, but also, in all its concrete specificity, explores issues that must continue to engage every citizen concerned with the ongoing effort to achieve a more peaceful, humane, cultivated, and authentically democratic American society—goals so often invoked rhetorically and so rarely achieved in practice.”