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American Veteran: From eager recruit to conscientious objector

Private First Class Clifton Hicks, veteran of the U.S. Army.
Amanda Lalezarian
Private First Class Clifton Hicks, veteran of the U.S. Army.

In commemoration of Veteran’s Day, the American Homefront Project collaborated with the PBS documentary series American Veteranand the companion podcast,American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, to profile men and women who have served in the U.S military.

Clifton Hicks came from a family with a long history of military service. Watching the 9/11 terror attacks on TV as a high school student, all he wanted was to join the Army and serve his country. He deployed to Iraq in 2003, but found the reality of conflict was nothing like the war movies he’d grown up watching. Hicks quickly became disenchanted and realized he couldn’t continue to serve in the military.

“I could not make sense of the things that I was seeing, so my response was to shut down,” he recalled. “When I did start speaking again, I was very vocal about how wrong the war was.”

Hicks shared the story of his transformation from eager recruit to conscientious objector.

Clifton Hicks was recorded by Insignia Films for GBH. 

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. 

Funding for the American Homefront Project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Funding for American Veteran was provided by the Wexner Family Charitable Fund, Battelle, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, JPMorgan Chase &Co., and Analog Devices.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.