By Dan La Botz
After Muhammad Ali refused induction — we had the champ in our corner.
When in June of 1963 I graduated from Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, just south of San Diego, California, I went to my local Selective Service Board—the draft board—and registered as a conscientious objector. My paternal grandfather, a Dutch immigrant and baker, was a socialist pacifist and his four sons had registered as conscientious objectors (C.O.s) in World War II and two of them—my father Herb and my uncle Bert—had been drafted and had done what was called alternative service (the alternative to serving in the military) at a former Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Big Flats, near Elmira, New York.
At the camp, my uncle Bert had become involved with a group associated with leftist Dwight McDonald and pacifist Dave Dellinger, and so when at the end of the war in August 1945t the C.O.s weren’t released from the camps, he joined the protests, strikes, and walk-outs among the 12,000 men around the country still being held. It was called the “End Slave Labor in America” movement. The federal government put Bert in prison for short while, but then all of the C.O.s were finally let go.
So, as you can see, it was fundamentally my upbringing that led me to register as a conscientious objector. Continue reading The Champ in Our Corner