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Work of National Importance: Conscientious Objectors in Civilian Service in Vermont

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01/24/2007

Civilian Public Service was a collaborative effort of the Selective Service System and the traditional peace churches (Quakers, Mennonites, Church of the Brethren) working through a coalition organization called the National Service Board for Religious Objectors. Designed to prevent the worst abuses meted out to conscientious objectors in World War I, CPS offered COs who refused noncombatant duty a positive alternative to prison by establishing a wartime program of national service, "work of national importance." These wartime episodes of men and women who refused to fight but made their own contributions to society in war time have been mostly ignored in the history of what was dubbed in the 1990s "the greatest generation" of Americans who fought what the 1960s called the last "good war." In 1993 members of CPS 87 and their wives met at the Brattleboro Retreat to mark the 50th anniversary of the unit.

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