The Rev. Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, poet, and counter-culture icon was born in Minnesota and died Saturday in the Bronx, at the age of 94. But when he helped define the shape of Vietnam war protests, he did it in Catonsville.
Berrigan was a member of the “Catonsville Nine,” a group of Catholic anti-war activists who walked into the Catonsville draft board in 1968 and burned draft files with homemade napalm.
The activists were arrested. At their trial Berrigan recited a statement in poetry that fiercely condemned the Vietnam War. In it, were the now-famous lines,
“Our apologies good friends
for the fracture of good order the burning of paper
instead of children the angering of the orderlies
in the front parlor of the charnel house
We could not so help us God do otherwise
For we are sick at heart our hearts
give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children”
The nine were found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison. But the act inspired subsequent draft-card burnings, and Berrigan — who went into hiding before his sentence was set to begin — became an icon of the movement.
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