Part of the Global Perspectives on War and Peace Collection. John Schuchardt, a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, recounts his story of speaking up against the Gulf War. Schuchart attempted to catch President George H.W. Bush's attention while he attended church in Kennebunkport, Maine.
0:00Copy video clip URL Schuchardt explains his opposition to the war and his interest in voicing his concerns to the president. He felt that the church is an important place for this sort of debate because of the church’s command to “love one’s neighbor.”
1:46Copy video clip URL “We understand the church to be the place where urgent moral concerns belong and ought to be raised…” He explains that there was a portion of the service where the minister asked worshipers to bring up any concerns they have. “After two or three other people spoke of those who were sick and suffering, I stood up and said, ‘I have a concern… We must think of the 18 million people of Iraq. Half of them are children under the age of fifteen years old. They are children just like the children sitting here in this church. We must think of what it means to be bombed by more than 2,000 planes a day.’ Having said those brief statements, somebody shouted for me to sit down and then the congregation all rose up to sing ‘God Bless America’ to drown out my voice.”
3:47Copy video clip URL Carrie Schuchardt explains her husband’s need to speak out at this particular moment in time. “It wasn’t time to philosophize about whether it was a just war or not.”
4:01Copy video clip URL “I continued, and I said, ‘I am a member of this church. I was confirmed in the United Church of Christ of Illinois as a child. I WILL speak for those who are suffering. This is the beginning of Lent. We must be willing to admit the mistakes that we have made.'” At this point, the minister and some church members attempt to make him leave, but he ends up staying.
4:38Copy video clip URL The service continues. “I stood up and said, ‘Before we sing the Lord’s Prayer I have a word’ and it was for that statement that I was assaulted by the chief of police, forced down on the floor, and held down while the congregation rose and sang the Lord’s Prayer… I was expelled from the church.”
5:27Copy video clip URL Image cuts to footage of Schuchardt being removed from the church by several secret service agents. “I lifted my voice and spoke over my shoulder as I was going out, ‘I am the voice of the voiceless. In the name of God, stop the bombing. Stop the massacre.'”
5:52Copy video clip URL Audio from Kennebunkport comes in, and we hear Schuchardt shouting those same words as he is handcuffed and pushed into a car. “I was charged with disorderly conduct, specifically making a loud and unreasonable noise. And if you look at the statute, it doesn’t even apply to speech… They were simply using the law as a weapon because they felt their obligation was to prohibit anyone from speaking in the presence of the Commander-in-Chief. I think they saw it that simply.”