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Controversy Over Monument in Canadian Town for U.S. Resisters to Vietnam War

StoryOctober 15, 2004
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A recently-proposed monument in Nelson, British Columbia for American draft resisters from the Vietnam War has stirred up a lot of controversy. We hear a few reactions to the proposal before the City Council ultimately cancelled the plans. [includes rush transcript]

Although Canada does have a history of taking in draft resisters, not all Canadians are supportive of the idea. Recently, in Nelson, British Columbia, a proposed monument for American draft resisters from the Vietnam War stirred up a lot of controversy.

The planned statue depicted a Canadian reaching out to help two Americans. It was to be unveiled during a two-day festival in honor of U.S. conscientious objectors. We hear a few reactions to the proposal.

  • Canadians react to the proposed monument for American draft resisters from the Vietnam War.

Later, the Nelson City Council nixed the plan. They decided there would be no public money or public land for a monument unless it had broad support in the community.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Turning now to an issue that is very much connected to what we are talking about today, although Canada does have a history of taking in draft resistors, there are some people who would rather forget that part of Canadian history. Recently, in Nelson, British Columbia, a proposed monument for American draft resistors from the Vietnam war stirred up a lot of controversy. The planned statue depicted a Canadian reaching out to help two Americans. It was to be unveiled during a two-day festival in honor of U.S. conscientious objectors. Here are some reactions to the proposal.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: You build memorials to things that you are very proud of. If we were talking about an example like Muhammad Ali, who stood his ground and said, "I will go to jail, but I will not fight." You have to have some respect for people who did, that, but you really don’t build monuments to people who ran and hid.

RACHEL THOMSON: I’m just calling to say I’m so proud of my draft-dodging father. He evaded the draft for the Vietnam war. I think it’s such a legacy within my family, such a proud — proud statement made by a strong man who refused to go to an unjust war. I really support this monument.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: It’s very disrespectful. I can’t believe that we would be — that it would be considered. I just hope that they don’t — I know — you know, applaud this and arrange to give them a piece of public land to erect this on. Because I think there’s going to be some repercussions.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I just wanted to say about this monument for the conscientious objectors in Nelson, I support it. I would be disappointed if Nelson didn’t go ahead with it. I think it’s necessary that we honor all kinds of courage, no just somebody who faces a bullet, but somebody who faces leaving home and leaving their families behind for what they truly believe in.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I’m an American man, former U.S. Marine who served in the Vietnam war. I’m very opposed to the memorial. I think it’s very, very disgusting that Canada should do something like this, the sick community of Nelson.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: A monument for the draft dodgers? Well, for conscientious objectors? Well, I don’t think a piece of statuary is the best use for that kind of idea.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Wow. Controversial topic for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: These people fled to Canada to get away from this war. If they opposed it, I have no problem with that, but shouldn’t they oppose it in their own country?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I’m a Veteran of the Second World War. The important thing about this monument, and I would like to see it built, and I would support it, is that what it’s bringing to the fore, most importantly at this time, a discussion of war and the use of war and the effects of war and particularly at the time when the Iraqi debacle is dragging us deeper and deeper into increasing militarism and increasing divisions in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: And those are some of the reactions of Canadians to the proposed monument to draft resistors that has been set up in British Columbia. In the end, after all the debate over the monument, the Nelson City Council nixed the plan. They decided there would be no public money or public land for a monument unless it had broad support in the community. This is Democracy Now! And "The Current."

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