Mike Vogler — conscientious in objection and service to others — dies at 69 | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mike Vogler — conscientious in objection and service to others — dies at 69

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 7:25 AM

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Michael Vogler died during heart surgery last Friday and his obituary at Ruebel Funeral Home is a testament to a man who quietly devoted his life to children and other good works. I met him shortly after I arrived in Little Rock, not too long after his release from federal prison for refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam war. 

I like the middle photo of Vogler. It's my memory of how he looked when he was among a group I covered as a young reporter over some civil justice issue or another.

The Vietnam war isn't even a memory for generations of Americans born since, though it remains a transformative event that shapes global decisions even today.  Acts of principle — personally huge for people like Vogler,  though perhaps small for those who didn't pay attention — still resonate. They predate the Internet. I can't even dig up some articles done by the Arkansas Times over the years about Vogler's witness to pacifism.  But a scant digital presence — one newspaper article available on Google does recount how Vogler said amnesty (which he eventually received from President Carter) also should be extended to Richard Nixon — doesn't diminish his witness.

I did find an article written from the federal prison by Vogler in a compilation by C.J. Hinke of the words of war resisters. Vogler's words are mostly a comment on the tedium of prison life, but  I offer below — for the digital historical record — notes from a good person, well remembered. He also liked breakfast for dinner and loved his family.

An editor's note on Vogler from the time is instructive:

Mike filed for CO classification at Christmas 1966 with Local Board #60 in Little Rock and received his 1-0 on March 16, 1967 after a hearing with the board. His position was “opposition to war as a means of realizing human brotherhood and community, or of furthering human relationships in a qualitative way.”

He returned his registration and classification cards on January 15, 1968 and subsequently refused to report for alternative service work. It was then only a matter of a few short months before he was sentenced to three years in prison, where he is now. From the time of his arrest, he refused bail because of its discrimination against the poor, would not plead before a man who claimed the right to judge his fellow man, and would not take a lawyer to speak on his behalf. Michael Vogler stood very tall before the court and nodded when the sentence was handed down.

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The rest follows:


☮☮☮
THE SCENE AT SPRINGFIELD Michael Vogler

(Editor’s Note. Michael Vogler was born on November 23, 1945 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He spent 1959 to 1964 in a Catholic seminary after completing high school and one year of college.

Mike filed for CO classification at Christmas 1966 with Local Board #60 in Little Rock and received his 1-0 on March 16, 1967 after a hearing with the board. His position was “opposition to war as a means of realizing human brotherhood and community, or of furthering human relationships in a qualitative way.

He returned his registration and classification cards on January 15, 1968 and subsequently refused to report for alternative service work. It was then only a matter of a few short months before he was sentenced to three years in prison, where he is now. From the time of his arrest, he refused bail because of its discrimination against the poor, would not plead before a man who claimed the right to judge his fellow man, and would not take a lawyer to speak on his behalf. Michael Vogler stood very tall before the court and nodded when the sentence was handed down.

Now he writes from the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, “My attitudes today are by and large negative, but more than that I am not ready to say. My present perspective is drastically limited and would rather wait until release before making some evaluation.”)



Rise around 5:00-6:00 for breakfast; 7:35 to work; 10:35 to lunch; 11:00 watch T.V. show “Jeopardy”; 12:00 back to work; 3:30 count and mail call; 4:00 supper. After supper we are free until 10:00 P.M. (In the yard until 8:00.) Most of this time is spent playing softball, bridge and watching T.V. if anything decent is on.

My job is secretary to the Parole Clerk. There does not seem to be much work, and mostly I read and write letters; on weekends, there is no mail, or work, or anything, so they really seem to stretch out endlessly.

The institution here is technically a Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. Most of the clientele are hospital patients, both psychiatric and medical. I am in the prison camp which is attached to the medical center. People in the camp are, supposedly, normal — at least we need no extraordinary medical or psychiatric care.

Haven’t thought too much about parole lately. (This is sort of funny since I work for the Parole Clerk.) Actually the whole problem of coöperation is one I think about almost constantly. It is impossible not to think about it. And the others here, in similar positions to mine, worry too. All I can say is that at present I have chosen to do what I have to do to get out. Perhaps not a very admirable decision, but under the circumstances I, personally, do not feel able to do anything else. How this would affect parole I can’t say. But it is very likely that I would not be granted parole even if I applied for it. The last parole board denied 80% of the applications.

(There is a sheet of rules and regulations put out by the director of the prison, Dr. P.J. Ciccone, concerning correspondence and visiting. The first thing mentioned regarding this is that prisoners will be permitted to receive letters only from persons on their approved list of correspondents. Letters received from persons not on the approved list are normally returned to sender. Visits are intended for members of a man’s immediate family. Close friends, if on one’s correspondence list, may visit if there are no close relatives to visit. Any other person must have written permission in advance. Persons not cleared as to eligibility prior to arrival will normally not be admitted. Visiting room is open every day from 8:30 to 10:30 A.M. and 1:00 to 3:00 P.M. Groups of not more than three visitors at a time.)

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