would you do if people treated you badly because of what you believed
in? What if you were put in prison, or if police officers barged
into your home to do a surprise inspection? This may not ever happen
to you, but it has happened to other people.
is important to remember and study the past. It isn't only so you
can do well on a history test at school. It is important to study
history in order to learn lessons about yourself and your country.
The philosopher George Santayana put it this way: “Those who do
not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In other words,
if you do not learn from the mistakes other people have made, you
will be more likely to make the same mistakes yourself.
history is more than a series of mistakes. It is also a story of
courage, faith, and endurance. These can teach you just as much
as mistakes can.
2004, the youngest conscientious objector from the Second World
War will be 75 years old. As time passes, and as the number of living
COs decreases, it becomes easier and easier to forget the past.
That's why it's important to remember, and learn from, their stories.
this section, you will learn about how Mennonites and other COs
suffered for their beliefs. Imprisonment, church burnings, and surprise
inspections are all part of the CO story. You can learn both from
the persecution and from how the COs responded.
Anne Baerg, wife of a
CO, puts the situation of COs into perspective.:
“Although we did not have
the uncertainties and anxieties of the men in the military, we
did have stress and burdens. However, we had the prayers and love
of our friends, family and church. We certainly went through many
lonely days, but none of our men were “missing in action.” We
were spared such hardships and have many reasons to be thankful.”
respect life and freedom and seek to live in peaceful existence
with God's creation. While we acknowledge the sincerity of those
who serve in the military, we believe in the power of truth, justice,
and love rather than in the power of war. We respect those who answered
the call to arms during the Second World War. We also deeply appreciate
that Mennonites were able to respond in ways that reflected our
convictions. We believe that the story of conscientious objectors
is an important part of history.