Iraq War conscientious objector to speak locally, March 16 and 17
GOSHEN, Ind. – Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejía became the face of the antiwar movement in early 2004 when he applied for a discharge from the National Guard as a conscientious objector. “By putting my weapon down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being,” he said.
Mejía is coming to Northern Indiana for several public presentations about his experiences as one of the first publicly-known conscientious objectors (CO) of the Iraq War. He will speak on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in Indiana University South Bend’s Wiekamp Hall Room 1001. He will also speak on Tuesday, March 17 at 7 p.m. at Iglesia Menonita Del Buen Pastor (523 S. 6th St., Goshen). Both events are free and will have book signings afterwards.
Mejía grew up in Nicaragua and Costa Rica before moving to the United States in 1994. He joined the military at age 19, serving as an infantryman in the active-duty Army for three years before transferring to the Florida National Guard. After five months of frontline combat in Iraq, Mejía became the first American soldier to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. His stand helped to rally the growing opposition and embolden his fellow soldiers. Although his CO case remains open to this day, Mejía was charged with desertion and served almost nine months in jail after his conviction in a military trial. His imprisonment caused Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience.
His 2007 book, “Road from ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía,” is Mejía’s unflinching account of how it felt to be a soldier on the ground in Iraq in the early months of the war. Also in 2007, he was elected chair of the board of directors of the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War. He lives in Miami.
Event sponsors: Goshen College PAX student club, Northern Indiana Women’s Action for New Directions, Michiana Peace & Justice Coalition, Notre Dame Student Peace Fellowship, Notre Dame Progressive Student Alliance, Human Rights Notre Dame, Indiana University South Bend and Northern Indiana Seniors for Peace
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