He grew up in a small town during the 1950’s. He considered them the golden years. He was pretty much a free range child, able to wander through the small town exploring the creeks and playgrounds at will . In the summer after morning chores his mother would hand him a sack lunch and say “Be home for dinner”.
Life wasn’t all roses. His mother was cold and stern, his father under her thumb. When he was 7 or eight his parents brought home their first TV. It was black and white, a tiny 12 inch screen. It was able to get two or sometimes 3 stations.
In the early fifties much of television programming consisted of films about WWII and the heroics and the devastation, and as he watched the horrors of war, it took all he could muster not to cry and call out condemnation to the TV. How could people be so cruel, foolish, and ignorant. These shows shook him to the core.
In 1967 after graduating from high school, unable to afford collage, he became eligible for the draft. He was vehemently opposed to war and violence and joined the local peace groups where he learned about draft dodgers and the groups of helping people with a like mind. He made a decision that would affect all the people in his life by vowing to resist the draft.
In January 1968 he stood in a group of draftees being inducted into the army and refused to step forward and say the pledge that would have made him a member of the U.S. Army, thus committing a crime punishable by 5 years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine. He went home to wait for the FBI to come arrest him.
He was a bit of a pariah in his small home town among the flag waving WWII vets. He understood the anger, of their sense of betrayal. He was also treated as a rock star by the young liberal hippies. The young ladies actually propositioned him, something he never would have dreamed. One young lady had a sister living in Toronto, so he went with her to visit and checkout the Toronto draft dodger situation.
He spent a year in Toronto. Fell into the hippie scene of Yorkville, never applied for immigrant status and was visited by a Royal Canadian Mountie in his bright red coat and asked very politely to leave Canada for just five minutes and apply for immigrant status at the border. Arrested at the border trying to do so, he found himself in jail.
In jail for 3 months, including his 21st birthday, he eventually posted bail and awaited trial for over 6 months. He was found guilty and sentenced to 5 years and also given the option to accept induction. He was tired and beaten by then and agreed to let his country enslave him.
The young man they sent to Nam didn’t come home, but the shell that did vowed to live a life of kindness and helping and working for his deepest desire; world peace.
I was born a long time ago.