Howard Marston and the Draft Resistance Movement

[caption id="attachment2225" align="alignright" width="300"]Howard Marston and family Howard Marston Jr., sitting with his mother and father. Watch the <a href="">full story.[/caption]

Here is an interesting closeup look at draft resistance during the Vietnam War. While our collections have a lot of footage of anti-war demonstrations and many undigitized stories about the draft resistance movement, this story is a special case. In this 1968 WHDH piece, we see from multiple angles how a young man’s decision to resist the draft affected him and those around him. Mr. Howard Marston, Jr., the resistor, and Mr. Howard Marston, Sr., his father, both speak articulately about his reasons for resisting the draft, and why his family and neighbors have come to support him. The focus of the story on one particular person, rather than the whole movement, makes it possible to delve beyond the (very interesting and wholly worthy of attention) idea of counterculture youth burning draft cards and escaping to Canada. There were surely many other draft resisters, some who had different reasons for objecting than Howard Marston, and just as I relish the specificity of this story, I’d love to be able to hear their experiences as well. It’s possible we have more stories with this level of specificity in our collection. If you’re interested in figuring out if more films like this one exist, take a look through our records, and contact us about sponsoring the preservation of a specific item.

Further research about Howard Marston led me to two articles in from the Harvard Crimson, which paint a picture of Marston’s role in the draft resistance movement of the day. These January 10th and 19th stories from 1968 explain Marston’s relationship with the Boston Draft Resistance Group. They also reveal that although the WHDH TV stories focuses solely on Marston, he actually refused induction in conjunction with Corey Brown. Their resistance occurred right after Dr. Benjamin Spock’s indictment for conspiracy to aid draft dodgers.  Together the two of them were the first resisters to be supported by peace groups after the indictment, making them leaders in the movement. The Crimson articles also highlight just how much Howard Marston Sr. was part of this fight as well. He is mentioned in both articles, and directly quoted in one as saying, “I take full responsibility for my son's refusal to kill innocent children in Vietnam. I want to find out if a dictator has more authority over a young man who's a minor than his father.”

And if you’d like to learn more about Howard Marston’s story, Swarthmore College Peace Collection includes the transcript of an interview with Howard Marston, Jr. in the Michael C. Foley Collection.