Friday, January 04, 2008

They Starved So That Others Would Not

More than 44,000 men registered as conscientious objectors during World War II. It wasn't their fear of being killed that inspired them to register, rather a fear that they would have to kill another human being. Most of these men were deeply religious people who could not picture Jesus going to war therefore neither could they. It was clear from their actions Jesus superseded even the President of the United States.

Far from cowards, these men dedicated themselves to serving their country the best they could while at the same time standing up for what they so strongly believed in. Thirty-six of the 12,000 who successfully avoided going to battle signed up to participate in an experiment which would literally starve them in hopes of finding how best to take care of the millions of people who would hopefully be liberated from concentration camps abroad.

Dr. Ancel Keys, author of The Biology of Human Starvation, closely monitored the 36 CO's diets and energy expenditure for 6 months in an effort to re-create the conditions of those in the concentration camps in Europe. There would be a period of normal eating; three months of semi-starvation coupled with the physical exertion of walking an equivalent of 22 miles a week, and then a year long rehabilitation phase.

These men are every bit as much heroes as the soldiers who went to war...maybe even more so. Instead of taking lives, they gave and continue to give life to many people who would otherwise succumb to starvation. They knowingly participated in this excruciatingly painful experiment gaining nothing in return. They were not paid, nor did they receive veteran benefits, purple hearts or any type of reward. This type of experiment is not likely to be repeated and will remain the fullest account of the physiological effects of starvation we have now and in the future.

"Never in the memory of man has there been a war in which the courage, the endurance and the loyalties of civilians played so vital a part," -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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