Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 10, 1975 · Page 125
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 125

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 10, 1975
Page 125
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has been reluctant to prosecute these men who, in effect, have dropped out of the program.) With this the scorecard, then, almost a year after President Ford's optimistic proposal for "binding the nation's wounds," the question arises: Where do we go from here? If, as seems likely, the only way of bringing the resisters back into the American mainstream is now an unconditional amnesty, should the government declare one? A knotty question, to be sure. For as opponents of such an amnesty point out, we never have had a blanket amnesty after any of our wars. So why should there be one now? Because-answer amnesty advocates--apart from the Civil War, never has a war produced more division in the country, and more resisters; and only a complete, ho- strings amnesty can bring about reconciliation. "Whatever the validity of these arguments, the likelihood is that they will be brought up in the months ahead. "The amnesty battle is by no means over," states one government official. 'There is still some skirmishing'to take place in Washington and elsewhere, before it is finally settled--one way or the other." Congressional action Indeed, there are several bills in Congress that attempt to resolve the amnesty issue. One of them, sponsored by Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D., Wis.) and entitled "Clemency Board Reorganization Act-of 1975," seeks to reopen--with no cut-off date--the President's program; as such, it is a far cry from unconditional amnesty. Two other bills, however, introduced by Sen. Philip Hart (D., Mich.) and Rep. Bella Abzug (D., N.Y.), do in fact provide blanket amnesty for all those covered in the President's program. The Abzug bill would also include many men that the program excluded.. What the outcome of all this will be nobody is willing to predict But if and when the emotion-charged amnesty debate is renewed, the voices of the resisters, as weil as those of the boys who served in Nam, will again need to be heard. THE YOUNG MEN SPEAK ' I. Mark Tiller-26-year-old draft evader, living in Toronto since 1968: I was opposed to the Vietnam war right from the beginning -in part because we had no business being there, and in part because I am basically a pacifist. But where I come from, a small town in rural Virginia, they weren't obout to listen to my application for conscientious-objector status. For me, it's probably been easier . than for most. My brother John, also a draft resister, is up here and I've married a Canadian. The real people who have suffered are my parents. Because of John and me they were subjected to a lot of harassment--obscene phone calls, letters, and even an'attempt on my father's life. But my parents have stuck with us through it all. Every Christmas they come up and visit with my six brothers and sisters. At this point, though, I'd like to go back to America. My real roots are there, and probably always will be. I can't see ever getting,used to being an expatriate. But the way I feel--and almost all the others up here feel the same way --if we had gone back under the clemency program, it would be admitting we were wrong. It would be saying we committed a crime, and we deserve to be punished. It would be going back on everything we believe in and fought for, and I'm just not ready to do that. IL Brad Fountain -- 27-year-old former Marine corporal who served in Vietnam in 1968-69: I was 19 when I was sent. to Nam as an, infantryman. At the time I couldn't have cared less about politics, but 1^ figured every man has an obligation to serve his country. As soon as I got off the ship, I was in combat. And thafs the way it stayed almost the whole time I was there--lOVi months constantly under fire. Words can't describe what thafs like. You see your buddies get blown apart, and maybe if yon're one of the lucky ones, you survive it. Me, I got wounded twice, in the leg and the stomach. Finally they decided to send me home. It was a rotten war, and I tell you frankly, I think it was probably a mistake for the U.S. to be there. But if you ask me what should be done about the gays who refused to serve, I say it would be a bigger mistake if they were let off scot-free. While many of them were up in Canada or Sweden having a good time, we were going through hell in Nam. And what did we come home to? No victory parades, no nothing. All there has been for many of us is unemployment, and I just can't see why we should be asked now to compete for jobs with those who didn't serve or deserted. At this point, I feel the country ought to say to those guys: "You let us down, and now we're going to Jet you down." In fact, unless they are willing to serve in the military like the rest of us did, I'd tell them to forget it: they don't deserve to live in America. m. Bernard Wilson--27-year-old Navy deserter, currently doing alternate service in a Virginia hospital: Why did I decide to do alternate service? Because, since 1969 when I deserted, I had been living underground with a false name. I hadn't seen my parents or my friends for six years. The clemency program was a chance to be me again. Still, I can't say I regret what I did. I was training to be a Navy medic back in '69, and all you saw in the training hospital were these guys back ^from Nam--missing arms and legs, burnt, some complete vegetables. Many hadn't understood why they were over there--and neither did 1.1 decided I wanted no part of the war. The only way out, I figured, was to desert. It may sound strange, but I love this country and I didn't want to, for fear, maybe of losing it altogether. So I chose the name Steve Price, took out a Social Security card where I was in Ohio, and began working odd jobs. Even my wife, whom I met there, for the jirst year or so only knew me by my false name, though she did know I was a deserter. Facing the family As for my parents, I never did tell them where I was. My father works in the Pentagon, and I was afraid of telling him. And actually, that has been the hardest thing so far about coming back: facing my parents. My job as a hospital orderly hasn't exactly been a pleasure, but the real tough thing is facing my family. I know I-hurt them awfully bad. And really, they are the reason I've decided to stay on with the alternate service program. I could quit tomorrow and all I would lose is my "clemency discharge, which frankly isn't worth anything as far as finding a job is concerned. Yet, I feel I have some obligation to make my parents comfortable.-As for myself, well, I did what I had to back in 1969.1 can't say I feel overjoyed about the whole experience, but after all, what guy my age feels happy about what he did during the Vietnam war? You're unsinkable Nothing can get you down when you're ready for fun. You could topple off your raft and not be worried. Because even though you have your period today, you know you're safe with Tampax tampons. Tampax tampons give you more than enough protection for your normal needs. They're soft, comfortable, very absorbent and gently expand in all three directions--length, breadth and width--to fit your inner contours. Nothing shows. There's never any bulkiness. And Tampax tampons contain no deodorants. A deodorant in a tampon is unnecessary and may be 1 harmful to sensitive tissues or cause allergic reactions. So have a raft of fun. With Tampax tampons nothing worries you. The internal protection more women trust MADE OHIY BY TAMPAX INCORPORATED. PALMER. MASS «)

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