“…I identified deeply with Paul Kuehnert’s
splendid memoir So Much Older Then, and others will too.”
—-Jon Michael Miller for Readers’ Favorite
So Much Older Then. Coming of Age When the World is Coming Apart.
The war came home to the sleepy Midwestern suburb I called home in the spring of 1969 when my childhood friend Vic died after stepping on a landmine in the central highlands of Vietnam. So Much Older Then. Coming of Age When the World Is Coming Apart is a memoir that traces my experiences as I try to make sense of Vic’s death and understand the demands of my own conscience, at the height of the Vietnam War. After becoming involved in the burgeoning mass movement against the war, I determined that my conscience demanded total non-cooperation with the draft. Along with a group of like-minded teens, I disrupted a Lutheran church convention on my eighteenth birthday and took over the stage to announce my refusal to register for the draft.
Back then neither my church nor the government responded to my draft resistance in the manner I expected. The church, instead of being moved to push for peace by my act of conscience, sought to have me fired and, when unsuccessful, officially censured the church-affiliated organization I worked for. Instead of arresting me, the government ignored me — along with tens of thousands of my peers who did not register—and began the strategy of “Vietnamization,” withdrawing American troops while continuing the war by pouring more money into bombs and guns for the South Vietnamese.
Over the next two years, I lived and worked on the west side of Chicago and worked full time to end the war and build more just and loving communities. My experiences—picket lines, arrests, jail all served to deepen my radical world view, I became alienated and discouraged. I began believing that individual acts of conscience were ineffective, even futile, in the face of the resilient and repressive American government. 18 months after disrupting the church convention, I wrote my draft board and registered for the draft.
Now, some 50 years later—living once again through times of great division, moral outrage, and protest actions for social justice— I recall those experiences with a mixture of pride and wonder. I am proud that I took a bold, personal stand against an unjust war. And I marvel at my youthful willingness to risk my future based on faith that my act would make a difference.
So Much Older Then. Coming of Age When the World Is Coming Apart challenges us to reflect on the impact of bold, personal actions and our willingness to take personal risks to a secure a better future.
So Much Older Then is available March 31 in both eBook and paperback. Order your copy today at: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=So-Much-Older-Then
Or, you can purchase through your independent bookseller:
Paperback ISBN:9781098358082 eBook ISBN:9781098358099
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Paul Kuehnert is a nurse and an executive leader in public health. Paul’s career choice—nursing—grew directly out of his experiences in the anti-war and civil rights movements of the late 1960s and early1970s. It was shaped, at first, by his desire to be contrarian: to bend gender norms by being a man in a “woman’s” profession. Later, as he began practicing nursing, he found that it was not only a profession, but also a vocation. His commitment to nursing, particularly in public health, provided him with the means to act every day in concrete ways to further healing, build community, and seek justice. He has done so for the last 45 years in partnership with others in several urban, suburban, and rural communities on issues ranging from infant mortality and lead poisoning to HIV/AIDS.
So Much Older Then. Coming of Age When the World is Coming Apart (Bookbaby, March 2021) is Paul’s first book. He is the author of eight chapters in nursing, public health, and sociology textbooks, as well as more than two dozen commentaries and peer-reviewed articles.
Paul is the president & chief executive officer of the Public Health Accreditation Board based in Alexandria, Virginia. He holds the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Master of Science degrees from University of Illinois-Chicago. He resides with his wife in Hallowell, Maine.