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Why Reinstate the Draft

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Should the United States reinstate the military draft? Would you want your son or daughter to be drafted in the military? Alarmingly, just simply flipping thru the channels of the television we are constantly reminded that are country is constantly under attack from numerous entities.

Does America need the draft? It is essential to the survival of freedom, democracy and the land that we all have become accustomed too. As a young lad, I was drafted in 1970 at the early age of 18. During this time of uncertainty, I felt it was my obligated duty to serve my country with pride and honor. Nevertheless, I did so for twenty-seven years of active duty for which I made this opportunity a valuable career.

Although I served my country, I was one of hundreds of thousands which could have protested the military initiative to lottery young men to fight for a land that oppressed my very well-being. During the seventies, the Civil Right's movement was in full gear and as an African-American; I was unable to select a college of my choice, to choose the neighborhood I wished to live in or to have a decent job. Meanwhile, African-American young men were fighting along Caucasian men and thus back home fighting in the streets of America for civil liberty.

Conscription, also known as the draft, was first used in the U.S. during the Civil War, then again during World War I, but was eliminated after each war ended. The first peacetime draft came in 1940, a reaction to mounting dangers as World War II began in Europe. The draft perished at the end of the war but was re-established two years later in reply to growing strains with the Soviet Union that became known as the Cold War. The Selective Service System drafted men during the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1964-1973).

In 1980 President Jimmy Carter re-implemented the requirement that young men must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. This requirement still stands today. Nonetheless, since the end of the Vietnam War no one has been drafted, and today the U.S. has an all-volunteer military force of 1.4 million men and women (more than 2 million, according to the Defense Department, if the reserves are added to this force). (www.teachablemoment.org/high/draft.html)

No war In America has divided the U.S. more than that of the Vietnam War. The draft played a significant role in forming this division. Opposition eventually came from a vast majority as well as across the political spectrum moreover was especially strong on college campuses, where young men had to determine whether to enlist, to anticipate being drafted, or to seek some way to dodge or resist service. In 1970 student demonstrations against the war resulted in National Guard soldiers killing five at Kent State University in Ohio and Mississippi police officers killing two at Jackson State in Mississippi. These deaths spurred protests that closed down close to 500 college campuses. (http://www.teachablemoment.org/high/draft.html)

The Vietnam-era draft, said the commanding officer in Vietnam, William Westmoreland, was "discriminatory, undemocratic and resulted in the war being fought by the poor man's son." During the Vietnam War 27 million men were eligible for the draft (women were not drafted). Some 2.2 million men were drafted and 8.7 million voluntarily enlisted. Some 16 million men (59 percent of draft-aged men) received deferments, exemptions, or disqualifications-they had the right connections or occupations, attended college, or had physical problems that allowed them to avoid military service. Another 500,000 resisted or evaded the draft by declaring themselves conscientious objectors, hiding, or going to Canada.

(In contrast, about 75 percent of the men born between 1919 and 1926 served in World War II, and most of the rest were exempted only for physical or mental handicaps.) (www.teachablemoment.org/high/draft.html)

When the Vietnam War first began only a small percentage of the American population opposed the war. Those who initially objected to the involvement in Vietnam fell into three broad categories: people with left-wing political opinions who wanted an NLF victory; pacifists who opposed all wars; and liberals who believed that the best way of stopping the spread of communism was by encouraging democratic, rather than authoritarian governments. (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/VNprotest.htm)

The first march to Washington against the Vietnam War took place in December, 1964. Some 25,000 people took part in this event but it was still the largest anti-war demonstration in American history. As the war progressed, more and more Americans turned against it. The societal atonement was particularly upset by the use of chemical weapons such as napalm and agent orange. In 1967, under the leadership of Bertrand Russell, a group of academic constituents set up the International War Crimes Tribunal. After interviewing many witnesses, they concluded that the United States was guilty of using weapons against the Vietnamese that were prohibited by international law. The United States armed forces were also found guilty of torturing captured prisoners and innocent civilians. The Tribunal, and other critics of the war, claimed that the US behavior in Vietnam was comparable to the atrocities committed by the Nazis in Europe during the Second World War. (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/VNprotest.htm)

In 1965, pacifist Norman Morrison, followed the example of a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Due, and publically immolated himself to death. Pursuantly, two other pacifists, Roger La Porte and Alice Herz, also burnt themselves in sacrificial protest against the war.

The decision to announce conscription for the war increased the level of protest, especially amongst young men. To keep the support of lucid and influential members of the middle class, students were not called up. However, many students throughout America still protested at what they considered were an attack on people's right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to fight for their country.

Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all-times, was one of the many distinguished black figures who protested against the war. There were numerous reasons that African-Americans and other ethnic minorities felt so strongly about Vietnam. One reason involved the expense of the war. By 1968, the Vietnam War was costing taxpayers $66 million dollars a day. As a result, President Lyndon B. Johnson increased income taxes and cut back low-income programs. The African-Americans, who suffered from poverty more than most other groups in America, were understandably upset by this decision. Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights leader, argued: "that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor as long as Vietnam continued



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