by Gina Sestak
Today is Veterans Day, and one of the few jobs I've never held is military service.
In the 1960s, though, while I was working my way through college and struggling just to survive, I did manage to devote my few free hours to an unpaid volunteer job, helping young men avoid becoming veterans. That was during the war in Viet Nam, and the draft was forcing young men into service to their country. I helped out by typing applications for conscientious objector status. If the government could be convinced that a draft-eligible man was sincerely a pacifist, he could do alternative service, fulfilling his military obligation by working in human services.
I volunteered at the Friends Meeting House, Pittsburgh's Quaker Center, in conjunction with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which was founded in 1917 to provide young Quakers and other conscientious objectors an opportunity to serve those in need instead of fighting during World War I. In 1947, the AFSC received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, you may remember. November 11 marked the end of World War I, the "war to end all wars." War hasn't ended, though, so some of us are trying an alternative method to put an end to war. Every month, on the 15th, the World Dreams Peace Bridge, an international on-line peace group, urges everyone to dream for peace. Will you join me on November 15 to dream some peace into this troubled world?