Many of you know that the Amish don't indulge in automobiles, electricity, store bought clothing, instruments (except the harmonica in some districts)...but there are many other things about the Amish that I've learned in my research. There is such a rich history in the midst of this peaceful group of people...want to know more?
Here are a few facts that I learned about the history of the Amish and my own heritage with family that goes back generations as part of the Amish church.
Did you know...
1-In WW2 there were about 72,000+ men who were registered as conscientious objectors (C.O.s). There are 4 categories that these men were separated in. Around 25,000 went into non-combate roles with the military. Around 27,000 were not fit to fight, failing the basic physical. Over 6,000 went to prison for refusing to serve in any capacity. This leaves about 12,000 men willing to serve with the Civilian Public Service (CPS).
2-Out of those 12,000 men in the CPS, nearly 6,000 of them were of the Mennonite/Amish denomination. It was the largest among all the religious groups: Brethren, Friends, Catholic to name a few.
3-There were 152 CPS camps for the C.O.s nationwide.
4-These 12,000 men worked over 8 million days of work. They were unpaid by the government. Their families and churches on the other hand contributed over $7 million to support their efforts and service.
5-In 1942 detached units were sent out to mental institutions since the need for assistance was extreme. Many mental institutions were experience an incredibly low staff with over-population.
"In 1941 Philadelphia State Hospital had 1,000 empoyees. By October 1942 only 200 remained. Designed for 2,500 patients, the hospital held 6000. There was one attendant for 300 patients." Albert N. Keim. The CPS Story: An Illustrated History of Civilian Public Service (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1990), 59.
This is where I'm going to pause.
Can you imagine the situation these hospitals were in? Desperate to care for the patients but unable to do it as effectively as needed because your employees are fighting for our freedoms. I'm thankful that the C.O.s were available to aid in this area. They were able to serve in 41 mental hospitals.
There was some public outcry against them working in this capacity but in the end it was decided that they would be allowed. They did a great deal of good. I give them and especially the regular staff and nurses a great deal of respect for the work that they did during this very difficult season in our country's history.
My grandpa Freeman Coblentz served in a mental hospital in Maryland during a portion of his time serving in the CPS. And my second book in The Promise of Sunrise series, Promise to Cherish (May 2014 with Howard/Simon & Schuster), highlights this part of the CPS. I can't wait to share Eli and Christine's story with you.
For more information on the CPS hop over to their website: Civilian Public Service.