Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Story of Courage in War Resistance: Justin Colby

He was just two weeks shy of turning 23 years old when US Army Specialist Justin Colby deserted his infantry unit on July 4, 2006 and went to Toronto rather than deploy a second time to Iraq, in a war he knew by then was wrong; a war that was being fought against a people who were defending their homes against an invading army. That was almost 10 years ago. For much of that time, Justin lived in Canada. He returned to the US to face charges against him. 

On March 22nd, 2013, after having returned to the US to face charges against him in a military court-martial, SPC Justin Colby was found guilty of desertion, given a bad conduct discharge, busted to E-1, and sentenced to serve 9 months to a military prison. He was being held in the county jail in Colorado Springs awaiting transport to a military correctional facility, when I wrote letters to the commanding general of Fort Carson in support of Justin's clemency plea, in which he requested an early release so that he could take care of his family. 

On April 25, 2014, his lawyer told me that Justin Colby had served his sentence, and was a free man and living with his family in the United States. 

Justin Colby was not an activist, certainly not a pacifist, no coward. He wanted only the freedom to live his life, raise his family (he fathered two children while living as a refugee in Canada), and to live up to a personally held standard that didn't permit him to go kill someone else who had done nothing to him. 

He has that that now; but he paid dearly for it. In my opinion, he's a richer man than most for having paid full price for those things he values. I don't feel sorry for him; I envy him that.

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