A Test of Loyalty
Tuesday April 5, 2005
By Marjorie O'Harra
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Patriotism means different things to different people. Sometimes, those who disagree with the government during wartime run the risk of being labeled "disloyal." We see it happening today with the war in Iraq. It was also the case during World War One.
At that time, anti-war sentiment was not well received in Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley. In April of 1918, 75 men rode in pursuit of a pacifist minister who had been forbidden to speak in Medford and told to leave town on the next train. The minister and a friend who accompanied him were given refuge in a home in Ashland. The vigilantes surrounded the house, seized the friend, stripped him to the waist, and painted German crosses on his body. They justified their actions by saying the man admitted that he had not subscribed to the Red Cross or the YMCA, and when asked if he supported Germany or America in the war, his reply was, " I am a conscientious objector and oppose all wars." The leader of the vigilantes warned, "All disloyal citizens had better be good."
History doesn't tell us what became of the pacifist minister. But we do know that he was not the last man of the cloth to take up the cause of peace during a time of war.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Marjorie O'Harra, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Ashland Tidings, April, 1918 SOURCE; "Medford 1885-1985" by Kay Atwood and Marjorie O'Harra; "The Oregon Book A to Z" by Connie Battaile; and "Ashland: First 130 Years" by Marjorie O'Harra.