Richard Ross is a former pastor of Smithville (Ohio) Mennonite Church. Here is his story.
In 1941, when the United States entered World War II, I was working as a machinist at the Westinghouse Corporation in Lima, Ohio, making $120 to $130 per week.
I was not yet fully aware that Westinghouse was gearing up to produce military materials, and the war rumors were negligible. However, the draft was in full swing, and we who were conscientious objectors (COs) were looking at alternate service possibilities. Some friends of mine had already been drafted.
There were approximately twelve Mennonites working at Westinghouse when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was operating a lathe when an associate came back from a break and informed me of the bombing. We were all stunned, and operations ceased as we gathered in small groups to talk about this new threat.
For those of us who were COs, the news caused additional alarm, as we could begin to imagine what this might mean to us if Westinghouse were to become engaged in producing war material. I was very certain what I would do. I could not, in good conscience, aid in producing any materials which would in any way be used to maim or kill. I knew I would be ready to make any sacrifice necessary to retain my strong convictions against war.
Before long, I came to realize that the new steel brackets I was machining were the end brackets for electronically controlled motors, to be used to turn turret guns on flying bombers. At about the same time, I was being asked to work on Sundays, which I refused to do, also as a matter of conscience.
Two weeks after our first child was born, I resigned from my job, the first CO to do so at Westinghouse in Lima. My resignation card, filed in the office by a niece of mine who was not Mennonite, stated "re-hire anytime."
I left Westinghouse and took a job at a carburetor re-building company, making $15 per week. Six weeks later I was able to secure a position as an automotive machinist, where I began at $30 per week, with only small increases throughout the duration of the war.
I have never regretted my decision to live up to my convictions. I believe faithfulness to God in these areas laid a faith-basis for obedience to God's call to ministry in subsequent years.
Adapted and used by permission from Seeking Peace, True Stories by Titus Peachy and Linda Gehman Peachy. © Good Books (800/ 762-7171).