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The following article was published in Peace Psychology, Fall/Winter, 2009.

 

Honoring Peace and Antiwar Behavior:

The US Peace Registry*

 

Michael D. Knox and Annie M. Wagganer

University of South Florida

“War will exist until that distant day when

the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation

and prestige that the warrior does today.”

 

-President John F. Kennedy

 

War is a dominant aspect of our culture.  Since World War II, the US has invaded more than 20 countries and is currently engaged in combat in three.  Beyond the devastation of life and significant destruction, our militaristic behavior also creates huge fiscal deficits and spends public funds that could otherwise be used for education and health care.  Changing this pro-war culture will require that peace and antiwar behaviors be taught, modeled and reinforced. 

The military honors its heroes and supports the warrior role with medals, promotions, ceremonies, and monuments.  There are few indicators, however, that American society values those who oppose war.  This results in a country that recognizes contributions to war, but often holds in derision those who call for peaceful alternatives.  These citizens have regularly suffered negative consequences, such as loss of friends, employment, and promotional opportunities, as well as intimidation, arrests, legal fees, imprisonment, and violence.

While the US has a long and rich history of citizens who have promoted peace, there exists no national record of their efforts or tribute to their patriotism.  Data regarding peace and antiwar advocacy are captured only sporadically, at best.  This significant work often goes unacknowledged and unappreciated by our society, ignored by American history and potentially forgotten by future generations.  The US Peace Memorial Foundation, a grassroots not-for-profit organization, is leading the way to reverse this trend. 

The Foundation publishes the US Peace Registry, a developing national database that is documenting the broad range of modern peace activism and antiwar behaviors.  It recognizes and honors both individual and organizational role models for peace leadership.  It is hypothesized that the Registry will reinforce antiwar actions, stimulate new discussions, increase comfort levels, and perhaps lead to greater citizen involvement in interventions for peace (Knox and Wagganer, 2009). 

Through disseminating information about US peace advocates and identifying their specific behaviors and accomplishments, the Registry will help decrease the social barriers that citizens regularly face and must overcome before they publicly express antiwar sentiment.  More Americans will be inspired to speak out for peace and to work to end the hatred, ignorance, greed, and intolerance that often lead to war.  Additionally, American youth and others will learn of our national resource of patriotic citizens and leaders who have advocated for peace and against war.

The processes of identifying those to be recognized in the US Peace Registry include self-nomination, nomination by others, and the selection of well-known public figures.  Potential registrants supply brief biographical information, data on specific actions/behaviors, and supporting documentation, which is then reviewed by volunteer editorial staff.  In the case of public figures, news and other reference sources are analyzed to identify antiwar/peace conduct for each nominee.  Each registrant must provide permission and certification of accuracy, and ultimately be approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors, before inclusion in the final database.  Following editing and verification, the data is published in the US Peace Registry.  

Supplementing the documentation of contemporary antiwar role models and modern behaviors will be a collection of antiwar quotations by famous United States leaders and personalities, both past and present.  For example, in his acceptance speech for the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King, Jr. acknowledged that, “It is not enough to say we must not wage war.  It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”  This quote, along with many other statements in support of peace and against war made by individuals such as Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Benjamin Franklin, and Margaret Mead will provide an additional historical perspective to the Registry.

 The database presently includes citizens who have publicly opposed US military

actions including invasion, occupation, production of weapons of mass destruction, use of weapons, and threats of war to solve international problems.  Individuals who have written an antiwar letter to their representatives in Congress or to a newspaper have been identified, along with Americans who have devoted their lives to peace and resisting war.  Organizations that have opposed war for centuries will be highlighted, as well as hundreds of relatively new peace-related websites (Knox and Wagganer, 2009). (SEE TABLE BELOW FOR SELECTED EXAMPLE BEHAVIORS.)

Based on recent analysis, it is expected that eventually the Registry will have listed several hundred discreet antiwar behaviors and recognized thousands of peace activists.  At present, the US Peace Registry is a living, online document that can be updated with additional registrants and behaviors in perpetuity.  It will later be made further available as a formal printed reference publication and be accessible for public viewing through electronic display at the US Peace Memorial monument in Washington DC (see Alice Yeager’s vision of the monument below).

Through this process, the US Peace Registry will help current and future generations understand how individuals and organizations have contested war and promoted peace. It will work to create a cultural shift where advocating for peaceful solutions to international problems and opposing war are considered as valuable as military action for securing our democracy.  It will ensure that those who oppose any future US war will have a broad arsenal of actions from which to choose.

For more information, or to submit an application for inclusion in the US Peace Registry, please visit www.uspeacememorial.org/registry.htm.   

Examples of Behaviors

 

Individual

Withhold portion of income tax

Attend peace conference

Run for political office

Develop educational curriculum

Email federal representatives

Participate in public debate

Author online blog

Serve on community board

Sign online petition

Volunteer at event

 

 

Organizational

Coordinate demonstration

Provide training

Organize film series

Manage storefront

Operate interactive website

Host conference

Contribute media campaign

Create exhibit

Publish electronic newsletter

Supervise lending library

 

Drawing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Notes

 

Michael D. Knox earned his Ph.D. in psychology in 1974 from The University of Michigan.  He is currently a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, Department of Internal Medicine, and the Department of Global Health at the University of South Florida.  Dr. Knox is Chair of the US Peace Memorial Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) public charity.

 

Annie M. Wagganer received her M.A. in sociology in 2006 from the University of South Florida (USF).  She is currently a Research Specialist at the USF Center for HIV Education and Research and an Instructor of Sociology at St. Louis Community College.

 

Michael D. Knox can be contacted at Knox@USPeaceMemorial.org.

 

 

References

 

Kennedy, J.F. (n.d.). Letter to a Navy Friend.  Retrieved September 12, 2009, from http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Quotations+of+John+F+Kennedy.htm

 

Knox, Michael D. and Annie M. Wagganer. (2009). A Cultural Shift toward Peace: The

Need for a National Symbol.  Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 15, 97-101.

 

King, Jr., Martin Luther. (1964). Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.  Retrieved September 12, 2009, from http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-lecture.html.

 

* A brief version of this article was delivered as a paper at the 2009 APA 117th Annual Convention, Toronto, Canada.