Learn about the experience of a conscientious objector (CO) to the Vietnam War, from the process of becoming a CO to the impact of the decision on family and friends, in Lesson Four of Vietnam War Oral History Lesson Plans.
When he turned 18 years old, Thomas Boaz of Decatur, Illinois, was obligated by law to register for the draft. He was living in Germany at the time as an exchange student. He went to the Consulate General of the United States in Munich and registered as a "noncombatant conscientious objector." As he waited to be drafted, he wrote a letter home telling his parents what he had done. Timothy Kendall was raised in Richmond, Virginia and is the oldest of 13 children. He grew up with very little money, but he managed to attend the University of Notre Dame in Indiana through scholarships and loans. While at Notre Dame, he took courses on the philosophy of nonviolence and learned more about the Vietnam War and the draft. By the time he was a junior, Kendall decided the draft and war were unethical and he refused to register and was in violation of the law. Committed to pacifism, he turned himself in to authorities and spent two years in prison.