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Refusing War, Affirming Peace

A History of Civilian Public Service Camp #21 at Cascade Locks

Jeffrey Kovac

Publication Year: 2009

One of the untold stories of America’s World War II experience belongs to the thousands who refused military service for reasons of conscience, instead serving their country through non-military alternate service. Refusing War, Affirming Peace offers an intimate view of a single Civilian Public Service Camp, Camp #21 at Cascade Locks, Oregon, one of the largest and longest-serving camps in the system—and one of the most unusual.

Under the leadership of a remarkable director, Rev. Mark Y. Schrock, and some outstanding camp leaders, the men at Camp #21 created a vibrant community. Despite the requisite long days of physical labor, the men developed a strong educational program, published a newspaper and a literary magazine, produced plays and concerts, and participated in a special school and research project called the School of Pacifist Living. They also challenged the Selective Service System in two political protests—one concerning the threatened removal of a Japanese American, George Yamada, and a second concerning a war- related work project. Their story shows the CPS system at its best.

Jeffrey Kovac’s thorough research has resulted in one of the very few histories of a single Civilian Public Service Camp, shedding light on a generation of men who, during the “good war,” created a community for peace. Refusing War is an important contribution to World War II history, peace studies, and the history of the Pacific Northwest.

Published by: Oregon State University Press


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pp. 9-11

Amid the torrent of books recalling America’s World War II experience on the battlefield and the home front, one facet of that experience has received scant attention. This is the history of a small but significant number of Americans who for reasons of conscience refused military service despite massive pressure to fight in what has come to be called...

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pp. 12-13

No book is written in isolation, and I want to thank those who have helped along the way. In my first serious venture into historical scholarship I have learned the importance of good archivists, and have had the pleasure of working with several. The records of CPS #21 are preserved at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives in ...

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Chapter One: Introduction

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pp. 14-22

World War II occupies a unique space in American memory. It is the “good war” in which the “greatest generation” mobilized to defeat fascism in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. Through the mists of nostalgia, those years are remembered as a time of simple, old-fashioned patriotism in which the citizenry, both at home and abroad...

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Chapter Two: Origins of CPS

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pp. 23-30

To understand the origins of CPS it is essential to begin in 1917, the year the United States entered World War I and passed a universal conscription act, because the experiences of conscientious objectors leaders. The American entry into World War I found the Historic unprepared to deal with the issue of conscription. When the war broke...

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Chapter Three: The First Months: Organizing a Community

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pp. 31-56

Civilian Public Service Camp #21 at Cascade Locks, Oregon, officially opened on November 27, 1941, when nine men arrived, transfers from the CPS camp at San Dimas, California. They were welcomed by the camp director, the Reverend Mark Y. Schrock, and two COs who were already there, J. Henry Dasenbrock and Wayne Gregory. Dasenbrock...

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Chapter Four: Summer and Fall 1942: Confrontations

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pp. 57-85

As summer approached, CPS #21 saw many changes. Men continued to arrive, increasing the size of the camp, but others left, including two assignees who were staff members, and some camp leaders. For example, in late April, twenty-six men, mainly Mennonites, including Wendell Harmon, editor...

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Chapter Five: 1943: In for the Long Haul

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pp. 86-115

The final issue of the Columbian, dated February 1943, reported that “at 3:00 a.m. on January 28, fire completely destroyed the Mark Schrock library.” The night watchman did not discover the fire, which was probably caused by faulty wiring, until it was too late to save anything. The winter weather frustrated efforts to fight the fire. There...

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Chapter Six: 1944: Transition to CO Leadership of the Camp

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pp. 116-138

Mark Schrock resigned. After he and his family left for Indiana in February two assignees, Bob Case and Charlie Davis, were chosen as co-directors, leaving the camp entirely in the hands of the COs. In late summer a personnel committee was established, primarily to handle the sometimes contentious issue of assigning men to side camps. That ...

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Chapter Seven: 1945-1946: The End of the War and the End of CPS #21

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pp. 139-150

“Morale at the Wyeth camp clearly dropped during 1945.”1 Some of the men were entering their fourth year in CPS; most were entering their third. As detached service opportunities opened up in mental hospitals and medical and agricultural experiments, many of the men with the most talent and initiative had transferred to these more challenging...

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Chapter Eight: Conclusion

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pp. 151-158

If Cascade Locks was “one of our most significant camps,” the “Athens of CPS,” how did this camp develop such a vibrant community that produced literature, art and music, a camp that could organize an effective protest of the removal of George Yamada and effect a change in national policy about war-related work, while other camps, such as...

Appendix: Complete Roster of CPS #21

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pp. 159-172

Notes & Bibliography

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pp. 173-186


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pp. 187-192

E-ISBN-13: 9780870716393
E-ISBN-10: 0870716395
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870715754
Print-ISBN-10: 0870715755

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: B&W photos
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 794701190
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Refusing War, Affirming Peace

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Subject Headings

  • Civilian Public Service. Camp #21 (Cascade Locks, Or.).
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Conscientious objectors -- Oregon -- Cascade Locks.
  • Conscientious objectors -- Oregon -- Cascade Locks -- History -- 20th century.
  • Church of the Brethren -- Oregon -- Cascade Locks -- History -- 20th century.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Oregon -- Cascade Locks.
  • Cascade Locks (Or.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Cascade Locks (Or.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
  • Cascade Locks (Or.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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