The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 March 2005

Deserter Wins Peacenik Award

Supporting Saddam Hussein is a heroic stance worthy of an award, as is fighting the evil scourge of democracy. That's a principled position.

Five months in hiding takes courage, as well, doesn't it?

(Boston Herald- Rob Haneisen- 15 March 2005)

SHERBORN - A former soldier who served nearly a year in jail for desertion after refusing to go back to Iraq will receive the Peace Abbey's Courage of Conscience Award tonight.
Nearly a year ago, Camilo Mejia ended five months of hiding when he spoke at the Peace Abbey before surrendering to authorities because he refused to rejoin his Florida National Guard unit in Iraq after a 14-day leave in 2003.
``Mejia will receive the award because this is the first individual to have the courage to publicly stand up to the U.S. policy in Iraq,'' said Peace Abbey Director Lewis Randa.
``It's only when you come home and begin to look for justifications for the war that you realize war is evil,'' said Mejia last year.
Randa said Mejia came to the conclusion that the war was not worth fighting after serving in Iraq.
``He no longer felt a responsibility to return to his unit. He learned first hand that the Iraqi people were not being best served by the intervention,'' said Randa, who was a conscientious objector of the Vietnam War. ``He received all of his counseling at the Peace Abbey through the five months he was underground. That's where he learned about conscientious objection.''
Randa would not say whether Mejia was sheltered at the Peace Abbey while being a fugitive.


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