The Draft
wasn’t scary. At least not to me. Even in high school I understood that rich,
connected kids didn’t go to war unless they wanted to establish an appearance
of honor upon which to build a career as a politician.  I thought everybody should “serve” doing
something productive for a couple of years. Military, Job Corp, Peace Corp…something.
I graduated high school in 1969 and entered college to get a teaching degree,
so the draft was news. I applied for, and got, a deferment, but it took me a
couple of years to catch on that even though I was a middle class white kid, I
was getting a rich, connected kid’s perk.  
Nearly all my
less fortunate friends were at the mercy of the draft, and that felt lousy. As
I made myself more aware of the differences between WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, I
began to see the significance of the famous Sesame Street question more
clearly: “Which of these things is not like the others?” I hated the reasons
for the war, and I hated the way Congress was orchestrating it. For one of the
few times in my life, I found myself attuned to a hawkish politician, Barry Goldwater,
who kept saying: “If we’re going to fight this war, then at least commit the resources
necessary to win it.”
several friends died in Vietnam, and a best buddy came home emotionally changed
forever, I dropped my deferment. I believed in service to my country…even if my
country was making a mistake. Perhaps I could be a medic or an engineering support
specialist. I had friends and family over there dying in the jungle. I was
halfway through college, when my number was announced: 256. All things
considered, it was a great number, statically at least, but that year the
numbers called out in the press took what seemed like overnight to hit 240,
then 245.  As I recall, they peaked at
251 that year. In the words of Maxwell Smart, I had “Missed it by that much.”

citizenry had, by that point, largely come around to the conclusion that our
Congress had been less than honest with us, and that Vietnam had nothing to do
with self-defense, and very little to do with “freeing” anyone other than those
few connected folk allowed to immigrate to the U.S.A.  When the war ended, and right up to the
present day, I watched what the sacrifices those young men and women made
actually meant to our leaders: NOTHING. Veterans have had to fight and die to
get what little medical treatment there is after their service, and what little
they got/get is still ranked as worst in the industrialized world.

My takeaway
after 65 years of pondering is simple. This scenario my generation has now seen
many times would stop overnight it Congress received the same pay and the same medical
benefits our Vets do. Oh, and I still believe that a draft system could be
great for America…as long as EVERYONE is required to serve in an area of their
own choosing…even the 1%.

I’m a semi-retired freelance writer, novelist, poet, and songwriter living in south Florida. My latest novel, The Ghostwalker File, is available at
I’m halfway through a sequel called: The I.M.P. Master. My website is: