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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
US draft dodger statue sparks row
US soldiers in the Mekong delta in 1967 during the Vietnam war
Thousands of young men fled to Canada to avoid fighting in Vietnam
A row has broken out in a small Canadian town over controversial plans for a memorial to US draft dodgers who avoided taking part in the Vietnam War.

A group of activists from Nelson, British Columbia, had planned to erect a monument to "honour the courageous legacy of Vietnam war resisters".

US veterans groups have criticised the proposal and asked US President George Bush to intervene to stop the project.

Some 125,000 Americans went to Canada during the war to avoid the draft.

Thousands returned to the US in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter announced an amnesty, but many stayed in Canada.

'Slap in the face'

The project organisers have said they are reconsidering the monument's setting.

The bronze statue of two Canadians reaching out to a US draft dodger was due to be unveiled in Nelson in 2006 as part of the Our Way Home festival celebrating US conscientious objectors.

To honour draft dodgers... is an abomination
John Furgess
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

The head of the largest organisation of combat veterans in the US said he respected freedom of expression, but that the memorial was a "slap in the face to every man and woman who ever served in uniform".

"To honour draft dodgers, deserters, people who brought grief to the families they left behind and anguish to those American men who took their place is an abomination," John Furgess of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States said in a statement.

Nelson mayor Dave Elliot said he had been deluged with e-mails and telephone calls since plans for the monument were unveiled earlier this month.

Nelson, about 45 miles (72km) north of the US border, is known for its ski slopes and artists community and relies heavily on income from the tourist trade.

US deserter's Canadian campaign
06 Jul 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Canada
29 Jun 04  |  Country profiles

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