Well, today is Memorial Day, the day in which we are supposed to remember all of our nation’s fallen soldiers. This post is my attempt at doing that.
You see, I am very, very thankful to all the courageous men and women who have put themselves in danger to protect the rest of us. I was in high school during the Vietnam era and faced being drafted upon graduation in May 1973. This was not good news because I was a wimp. Even though I was tall, I was very skinny. I was the quintessential 90-pound weakling, except I weighed 160 pounds. I was the last one to be picked when dividing up for sports teams, and I was definitely not popular with the girls. I figured that if I got drafted and ended up fighting in Vietnam, I would be one of the first to die. Heck, I might simply die during basic training. You might be thinking that after training I would buff up and be okay. Perhaps. But I just couldn’t see that happening. Fortunately, the US government decided to end conscription in 1973, shortly before I had to register with the Selective Service System. What a relief I felt.
After finishing college and starting a job as an engineer, I thought back often and wondered what my life, if any, would have been like had the military draft not have ended. One day I was listening to a Christian radio talk show. The topic of discussion was whether or not the draft should be reinstituted. I was vehemently opposed to the draft, believing it was a violation of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution which says, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Since the military draft was a means to force people to serve their country, it seemed very clear to me that it constituted involuntary servitude. I simply thought that if We The People wanted some among us to put their lives on the line for us, we should be willing to pay enough to get those people to voluntarily join the ranks of the military, just as we do with police officers, firemen, etc. So, I called the talk show and told them my opinion. The host pointed out that the Supreme Court had always viewed conscription as not violating the 13th amendment. I simply responded, “Then they have always been wrong.”
Even though I am very glad that the involuntary system ended when it did, I still deeply understand the need for a strong military. There are people in the world who would like to do our nation harm, and we simply can’t allow that to happen. We need brave men and women to step up to the plate and put their lives on the line to preserve the freedoms we enjoy every day and to thwart attempts by outside forces to destroy those freedoms. Fortunately, we have such people voluntarily stepping up to the plate each and every day.
So, to everyone of those courageous men and women, I give my hardiest THANK YOU! If I were worthy, I would salute you, but that gesture is best left to the non-wimps among us.