Not a war statistic

May 23, 2016 by

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During the Korean War, the draft took many young men into new experiences. In Korea, 36,574 Americans died and 103,574 were wounded. Today the Veterans Administration hospitals are full, dealing with that conflict and other wars before and since.

In the 1950s, some of us, rather than joining the military, served under Mennonite Central Committee. Six men, a vanload, went to Portland, Maine, to work at Maine General Hospital. One of us came from Nampa, Idaho, another from Lushton, Neb., and so on. Some weeks later, one came from Lancaster, Pa., and two more from Ohio and Kansas. Most were employed in the surgical suite. Hospital work was new to all of us. People without medical training working in surgery was a new idea. But the result of this MCC experience was: the young man from Nampa became the head of the American Respiratory Therapy Association. The Lancaster volunteer earned his M.D. at Temple University and served in Vietnam under MCC. The one from Ohio grew “the best popcorn in the world.”

The point: the contrast between becoming a war statistic and the contribution made by MCC’s alternative service opportunity.

Bill Regehr
North Newton, Kan.

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