Richard Lind, who left the United States eight years ago rather than fight in Vietnam, said he would rather work with nearby Quakers, build his ocean-side home on the rolling Nova Scotia slopes and freely travel the Canadian countryside rather than return to his Annandale home.
"I am a Canadian. Canada is my home," Lind said proudly but without bitterness toward the United States, "the country I lived in and learned to love and that forced me to leave."
Lind and his brother, Raymond, who also moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, rather than be drafted, are two of about 13,000 Vietnam-era draft evaders who were pardoned by President Carter last month.
As the final legal step of Carter's act, the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria last week dismissed criminal charges against the Linds and 29 other Northern Virginians. In Maryland, 40 draft evasion cases were dismissed on Feb. 10. In the District of Columbia, one indictment was dismissed last Tuesday and seven arrest warrants are in the process of being dropped.
Like many others who have sought refuge in Canada and other countries for at least four years, the Linds said they have become entrenched in their new environments and have no desire to return to their homeland.
"Canada was willing to accept us when America wasn't," Richard Lind, 32, said with a touch of a British accent. "It's been a great benefit moving to Canada.
"I am bitter at times only because of the way our leaving hurt my family," said the Annandale High School graduate. "It was very hard on them to lose us."
Gregory B. Foisie, who left his Alexandria home at age 19, joined a religious farming commune that led him to Canada, where he resisted the draft for almost six years.
Foisie has married and divorced, has two children and builds cabins for the Ontario government in the Canadian bush. He cannot be reached by telephone, according to his mother, Rita Foisie.
"I just received a letter from him," Mrs. Foisie said. "He said he was very happy" about Carter's pardon for draft resisters. "But he's not coming back. He feels there's a freedom to be himself that he didn't find here.
"We didn't want him to pursue" draft evasion by going to Canada, Mrs. Foisie said. "We wanted to go through all the legal ways because he could afford it. But he was very idealistic.He's a spiritual-type of person, more so than his parents.He felt he had to make a stand and we respect him for it."
About 7,500 American draft resisters in Canada have already renounced their American citizenship, according to Jack Colhoun, an editor of a war resisters' magazine, AMEX-Canada.
"For years I was the only one. I knew who wanted to go back to the States," said Calhoun, a deserter, who is ineligible under Carter's pardon. "Somewhere along the line you stop being an exile and you become an immigrant. You fade into the wood-work."
Many of the hundreds of draft resisters and deserters Colhoun said he contacts during his work are happy and successful in Canada. But he said many fear reprisal or blacklisting at home by veterans groups who opposed the pardon.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has launched a campaign to inform its 2.4 million members of the names of all draft resisters who accept a pardon, according to VFW spokesman T. H. Marlow.
"We think the American public should have the right of information for people who accept pardons," Marlow said. He said the VFW does not use the term blacklist in its campaign but added that individual posts can decide what they will do with the information.
"If a man accepts a pardon, he admits guilt, as if he had been convicted of a crime in court," Marlow said.
"I want absolutely no publicity on my son," a Falls Church man shouted in a telephone interview. his son has been living in Canada for nearly seven years. "He's not here and I doubt very much if he'll ever be here, excepto to visit."
The man, who said he was reluctant at first to discuss his son has began talking freely, as if he had many thoughts to get off his chest, after a reporter assured him anonymity.
At first he felt his son should have enlisted in the service, but he said his mind has changed since he learned of the atrocities that occurred in the war.
His son now has a wife and two children, a "small farm, and a good job" as a Canadian government electronics expert. He worked in Thailand for a year for a company that received U.S. government contracts before registering for the draft, his father said.
"When he came back, his opinion was that it was not worthwhile for him to spend a two-year tour in the Army," the father said. "He saw and heard and found out things in that year that made him decide he would not serve in the U.S. Army.
"Nobody wants to get killed," he said. "Nobody wants to be part of pulling that trigger unless it's worthwhile," said the man, who then reminisced about the battles he fought during World War II.
The man repeated over and over how he is now proud of his son's accomplishments, his happiness with his family, his job and respect in Canada.
"Why can't we forget the whole thing," the man said. "It makes me sad when I read about it in the paper."
All of the families interviewed recalled annual visits to their homes by FBI agents who attempted to find out where their sons or brothers were hiding.
Justin W. Williams, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria, said some of the draft evasion indictments, which go back as far as 1968, did not list current addresses. Thus, some resisters may not know they now can freely cross the border back into the United States.
Once the indictments are dismissed, the FBI is notified and clears its records of outstanding warrants against draft evaders so they will not be arrested when they return, William said.
Williams said that he has prosecuted between 80 and 100 Selective Service cases in the Northern Virginia area. The offenses each carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $ 10,000 fine. He said he cannot remember any individuals who were sentenced to more than a total of five years, even if they were convicted for more than one offense.
According to the Justice Department figures, Carter's pardon covers about 2,600 draft dodgers who were under indictment, about 9,000 who were convicted or pleaded guilty and who now have their records cleared, and about 1,200 who were under investigation for alleged violations.
Excluded from the pardon are those who used force or violence while evading the draft, deserters and those with less than honorable discharges. Colhoun and Lind said these people should also have been pardoned.
"A couple times I went to Windsor (Ontario) and looked across at Detroit," Colhoun said. "I just wished I could see what it's like over there."