Memorial Day 2012


I dodged the draft. Actually, the draft dodged me.

Was it 1968? I think so, but I could be off by a year one way or the other. Anyway, it was the year of the first draft lottery. My birthday came in at number 68. Bad, very bad. Visions of dying face down in a rice paddy rampaged through my head. Oh, no! Not me!! I was in college! Let that poor, most likely black, high school drop-out go and fight Nixon’s war; he probably needed the money and the free dental…

So I signed up for ROTC. I can still remember one of the questions on the test: would you rather shoot a gun or play the violin. True answer: play the violin; answer I chose: shoot that gun!! I passed the test! The crusty old sergeant told me all I had to do now was pass the physical. I did. Ah!! Now I’d be spared involuntary induction!! Even if the Vietnam war was still raging when I finished the program, at least I’d be an officer and would have a decent chance  of being stationed in Germany, Japan, or some other peaceful place.

Two days later I got the notice for my draft physical. Not yet understanding government bureaucracy, I naively inquired if, since I had already passed the ROTC physical, it was really necessary for me to take this new exam. It was, of course. Different bureaucracies altogether.

Short story: I flunked thanks to a very nice doctor. I’d tell you why I flunked but the reason was, and remains, too embarrassing. No rice paddies for me!  I was now free to continue happily protesting the war without having to worry I might actually end up fighting – and dying – in it.

Being the loyal, patriotic citizen I was and remain, I immediately dropped out of ROTC .

So much for my distinguished  military career.

Now, forty some years after my harrowing brush with the military industrial complex, our numerous wars are fought by professional soldiers we all pretend to honor. Sadly, we seldom, individually or as a nation, put our money where our mouths are when our Brave Men and Women come marching home. Thanks guys, here’s your first unemployment check and please don’t bother the VA with your possibly bogus claims of suffering from PTSD (but you may march in a nifty parade this weekend!)…

Just to show you what a hypocrite I am, I’ll tell you I think a professional military, politically speaking, is a bad idea. We may have the vote, but the army has the guns (not to mention thousand of tanks and black, death spewing helocopters). Polling suggests the military is much more conservator than the rest of us. There is also a growing strain of evangelical christianity among the troops. If, someday, the top brass and officer corps find our civilian leaders too liberal, or too godless, or too something else they don’t like, they can swiftly complete a coup.

My solution? A draft, of course.


Old Soldiers – Our Hot Soldiers!Universal Soldier American Soldiers

Photo by Andrew Becraft, subject to this creative commons license

Set by Andrew

Read all of VISIONS

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