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The United States and the Second World WarNew Perspectives on Diplomacy, War, and the Home Front$
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G. Kurt Piehler and Sidney Pash

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231201

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823231201.001.0001

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American Pacifism, the “Greatest Generation,” and World War II

American Pacifism, the “Greatest Generation,” and World War II

(p.259) Chapter Nine American Pacifism, the “Greatest Generation,” and World War II
The United States and the Second World War

Scott H. Bennett

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines both secular and religious pacifists, the movement's reaction to prewar preparedness, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the vital role that peace activists and conscientious objectors played in supporting civil liberties during the ensuing war, and the latter's heroic role in serving the mentally handicapped in often dangerous and appalling conditions. It also traces how peace activists, especially the Fellowship on Reconciliation, fought Jim Crow by helping to create the Congress of Racial Equality. Many in the so-called “greatest generation” nobly served the republic without taking up arms, and the chapter explores the histories of those pacifists who served as medics in some of the most brutal war zones. Just as military service provided veterans with newfound skills and abilities, so too did conscientious objectors emerge from prison and Civilian Public Service camps with valuable skills that shaped a generation of postwar activism.

Keywords:   pacifists, prewar preparedness, Pearl Harbor, civil liberty, peace activists, Congress of Racial Equality

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