Bruce Phillips believed that killing people in war was wrong. After fighting in Korea, he became a conscientious objector. But he was certainly no coward: he volunteered as a smokejumper. Smokejumpers parachute into forest fires to extinguish them while the fire is still remote, before it becomes a direct threat to the public. Conscientious objectors during WWII pioneered the practice, and by the end of the war, 240 were deployed smokejumping across the country. Due to the success of the program, the US Forest Service continues it to this day.
I cried when I first read this poem. It testifies to the conscientious objectors’ courage, and nonviolent convictions. They were real men.