Marvin Snell was interned during WW II in CPS Camp 56, Waldport, Oregon. In the years following WW II, Dr. Snell practiced medicine in a variety of settings, including clinics and hospitals, as well as serving from 1958 to 1980 as the director of student health and campus doctor for the University of La Verne in California. Dr. Snell remains committed to public service and frequently volunteers his time and medical experience to improving higher education in his community.
“Initially my foundation [to become a conscientious objector] was very strongly religious. My background of course was the Church of the Brethren, which is one of the historic peace churches. It’s hard for me to remember any specific teaching that said you must be a conscientious objector or you must be a peacemaker, but certainly that was kind of the underlying part of my early childhood upbringing and education. So I had a strong religious conviction initially. And as time went on, I developed not only the religious conviction, but also the humanitarian, even the political reasons for being a Conscientious Objector.
“Something I think is really interesting about this community and the Church of the Brethren is that people made these decisions when they were quite young, you know, even as preteens we had these notions emerging. I think that’s kind of any unusual in America.
“As a teenager I’m not sure I really was working very hard to be set apart in any way. I was trying to be one of the gang in many regards. I was involved in sports, which I wasn’t really very good at. I still wanted to be part of that scene. One thing that did affect me greatly was the fact that in high school that I went to I had half a dozen or moreChurch of the Brethren friends. These were mostly people who were sort of leaders within the high-school environment. In essence they were a support group way back then.We weren’t just alone. I think that made a considerable difference in the ease of which I went into the CO position, because of my buddies.
“I can’t recall my parents saying this is what I should believe, or this is the way I was going to behave. The phrase that comes up mostly when I think about my mother is: ‘Let your conscience be your guide.’ I don’t remember her specifically saying this is the way you’re going to do this, the way it should be.
“Besides the Bible, the book that probably influenced me most in terms of my general feeling towards people and the way they behave with each other was Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. I was very much impressed by the priest whose candlesticks were stolen. When the police came and brought the thief that had taken the candlesticks, the priest said, ‘No, he didn’t steal them I gave them to him.’ It still gets to me. It just seemed to me that this was the kind of person that I really would want to be, someone who is forgiving, someone who is caring, someone who is loving. Those attributes don’t fit in with the military image as far as I was concerned.”
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