Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Last week, there was a New York Times piece about this guy who claimed that the luckiest year to have been born among those lucky years of baby-boomer prosperity was 1957; having come into the world myself at that time, I’m not so sure. I always thought I got gypped by not being in the heart of the boomer years; all those hippies eight or ten years older than me got the Beatles and LSD; my class got the Bee-Gees and angel dust.

That said, there is one aspect of being a child—at least a boy child—in the United States sprung from the womb in the year of our lord nineteen-hundred and fifty-seven: I was the first group of 18 year-old males who didn’t have to register for the draft.

And while this made the year or so I’d spent attending Quaker meetings on Sunday mornings in hopes of being able to establish conscientious objector status all for naught, it is something I’ve always been thankful for. Not that I would have been likely to have been called up and sent overseas (that’s what student deferments were all about, right?) but still, at the very least, it gave me the freedom to drop out of college the first time after a month and hitchhike across Canada without that being a way to avoid military service.

All of which is to say how much my heart goes out to men and women in the military on this Veteran’s Day; I’m grateful for their service to our country even though, I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure what that service is supposed to be doing all of the time.

The promise of the Obama administration, I thought, was that we would get straight answers to the question, “Why are Americans being sent overseas to die?”

I sure hope that, in the spirit of today, that the President explains soon what we’re going in Afghanistan and why.


Blogger Andrew Davidson said...


Being a student wouldn't have helped you.

I was born in 1953 and when I was a freshman in college (1971), there was still a draft, and student deferments had already been eliminated a few years before.

So I had to register and when my lottery number was announced as 3, that was probably the worst day of my college career (even worse than the day I failed an engineering course, but that was because I had lost all interest in it and just didn't do the final project, really).

I was quickly summoned to the Federal Building in Newark, NJ for an all-day physical, after which I promptly received a 1A classification. So come January 2, 1972, I was due to be called up for basic training. I had not had the foresight that you did to lay a foundation for CO status, as a lawyer who specialized in draft matters gently pointed out when I considered applying for CO.

I briefly considered pre-enrolling in rabbinical school, because you could still get a deferment for that. My rabbi wasn't too keen on the subterfuge, though, since I had no intention of actually becoming a rabbi, so didn't do that.

The draft calls each month that fall were rapidly diminishing, fortunately, and were suspended, it turns out, permanently by December. And so I squeaked by.

I consider ending the draft the only good thing Richard Nixon ever did, at least for me.


5:05 PM  
Blogger dashap said...

Oy, I say.

5:44 PM  

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