On this Memorial Day, here is a special recognition of men who were conscripted into the military and who were killed in action.
Volunteering for hazardous military duty and paying for it with your life deserves the highest praise. But what about those men who were drafted, who had no choice and who were killed? Today, memories of the draft have faded and the reality of Selective Service are absent in the lives of so many Americans.
It is hard for today’s generations, mainly post-Baby Boomer, to know what it is like for government to order you into combat. For notification to report to a certain military installation on a certain date to be inducted into the Army. To be hauled off to basic training, to be told how to meet your responsibility to kill people. To be transported to front lines where people are dying. To either fire your weapon and fight, or be court marshaled.
Failure to report for your military draft would result in imprisonment or fines and immediate induction.
Today, the governing principle is that “It’s my body and no one can tell me what to do with it.” That’s mostly the mantra of the abortion industry and women’s rights advocates. But the philosophy certain has successfully seeped into today’s package of taken-for-granted men’s rights. A draft is simply inconceivable in today’s culture of extreme individualism.
Today’s generations have no concept of what life was like when you had to plan for at least two years of military service. No “gap” year allowed. Avoiding the draft has a major concern, as important if not more so, than picking a college or a career. College deferments, which ultimately would run out. Getting married, but that deferment disappeared as the Vietnam War grew hotter. Teaching or certain other occupations. Using a connection to find a slot in a high-demand reserve unit.
In the Vietnam War, draftees accounted for 30.4 percent, or 17,725 combat deaths. Some 1.9
million men were drafted from 1964 to 1973. In World War II, 61.2 percent of military men, or 11,5 million men, were draftees.
While a large number of men were volunteers, in a manner of speaking, they also in reality were inductees. The draft, as designed, encouraged young men to “volunteer” for other branches of the service than the Army. “Volunteer” service in the Navy or Air Force was at least a year longer, but the chances of getting maimed or killed in combat were less.
The draft always has been controversial, less so in time of national emergency such as World War II. But barring the most extraordinary crisis, today’s culture has killed all possibility of it returning (even though men today are still required to register for selective service).
By the way, the stereotype of the Vietnam veteran is way off base. The image of the poorly educated, reluctant, drugged out and minority Vietnam soldier needs to be changed according to Fact vs. Fiction. Check it out.