Scattergood and the Vietnam War

by Jeff Kisling

Don Laughlin and Roy Knight signed the Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Below I include some quotations from the Journal I kept at the time.  It was not correct when I wrote “I knew neither of my parents approved at all”.  They both understood the issues very well.  It was just personal concern for me and what I might experience in prison, and the lifelong consequences of a felony conviction that they were reacting to.  I’m glad for Don Laughlin’s comment after this was published, and he is correct about my parent’s understanding.  The real issue was I don’t think they understood at the time that however much I really didn’t want to go to prison, I was so strongly led to that decision that it would have been a burden the rest of my life to feel I had not lived according to my beliefs.

I’ll admit it was very sobering to realize, as I was thinking back about all of this, how different my life would have been if I had been convicted for draft resistance.  It is almost certain I would not have had a career at Riley Hospital for Children, among other consequences.  The societal consequences of a prison record are much worse today thanks to changing attitudes toward those who have been incarcerated.

There was another big part of this decision that I didn’t write about below.  The men and their families who refused to cooperate with the Selective Service System were held in high regard for their decisions and sacrifices.  I clearly remember thinking that if I made that decision, it had to be what I felt I was being led to do, not make it because of how it might look to others.

Looking back on it all now I find it humorous that I turned in my draft cards twice.  But it wasn’t funny at the time, and shows these decisions often don’t come easily, and always affect more than the individual involved.

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