Today, September 4, 2014, I celebrate the 45th anniversary of Michael Simmons (Dad) refusal to participate in the murder of Vietnamese women, children, and men. This resulted in him serving 2 ½ years (30-months) in prison, when, according to him, the average (White) draft case only served 1 ½ years. I was barely five months old when he began serving his term on September 4, 1969.
Coincidentally (or karmically), my mother (Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons), his ex-wife and life long comrade, was a member of the first American NGO (non-governmental organization) delegation, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, to go into Vietnam right after the war ended in 1979 and risk her life to sneak into Cambodia, during the barbaric Pol Pot regime to document the testimonies of men, women and children and share them with the western world.
I invite you to read an interview with Michael about his conscientious objection: “A Black Man Fights the Draft”, Objector Magazine, published by the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, 2003 via this link: http://www.crmvet.org/comm/draft.htm
Excerpt: “[…]because of the Civil Rights Movement, and because of the influences of people like Malcolm X, along with some things that were happening in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, I had made up my mind in high school that I didn’t want to go into the military even if there hadn’t been a war, and clearly I wasn’t going to fight anybody. But my intent was to try to avoid the military and jail, because I didn’t want to go to jail either.
When I got out of high school, I did register for the draft, because I didn’t know any better, and then I started college.
During my days in college there was no problem, but I went to college for two years and then I dropped out and went down south and joined the Civil Rights Movement. That’s when I started being hassled by the government in terms of reporting [to the draft board] to take my physical, and the other stuff that I was supposed to do…”
Happy Anniversary Dad of WALKING the HARDCORE PRINCIPLED TALK of Peace and Justice for ALL.
Photo was taken at Allenwood Federal Prison (prior to his being transferred to Lewisburg Federal Prison)