Fifty years after they set hundreds of draft files ablaze to protest the Vietnam War, the “Catonsville Nine” were honored with a historical marker in the Maryland community.
The state sign, unveiled Saturday, recognizes the pivotal role of their action. Indeed, Joby Taylor, director of the Shriver Peaceworker Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, called it “one of the most significant acts of war resistance in our nation’s history.” The sign reads:
The marker sits just across the street from the site where the Berrigans, along with Brother David Darst, John Hogan, Tom Lewis, Marjorie Melville, Thomas Melville, George Mische, and Mary Moylan took the 378 draft files, put them into wire trash bins, and carried them outside where they set them ablaze with homemade napalm.
“Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise,” Father Dan Berrigan, who died in 2016, said at the time.
As the draft documents turned to ashes, “we prayed for peace and waited for the police,” Mische would later write.
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