OK, let me say it so it is out there: It is time to start the military draft. Let me say that again: It is time to start the military draft.
Any who know me probably think that is an odd thing for me to say. I suspect they are wondering why I said it, and publicly at that. My answer is actually simple: I believe the draft would cause this nation to think more about peace than war. It would also teach us something about geography. It would make many of us think a lot about the value of lives, ours and others. Maybe some of us, here and in Washington, would think very seriously about other solutions.
During the Vietnam Conflict (at the time it was called a “conflict”), many across this nation paid close attention to what was happening over there in Vietnam. Many actually knew where Vietnam was. And many began to believe that Vietnam was not a good place to be sending young American men. They watched the news on TV. They looked at their sons, brothers and students and wondered if they would be going to that place. Every day Vietnam managed to intrude into their lives. Even n the smallest towns, Vietnam reached in and grabbed young men who suddenly disappeared. Even in the smallest towns, young men were returned for their funerals.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, teachers and friends all said good-bye to young men going off to Vietnam. Approximately 60,000 of them did not return.
Many of these young men would be grandfathers today had they not given their lives for the freedom of others. I am not naïve. I realize that there is a certain human price that we always must pay to be free, a certain number of lives that always must be sacrificed. Ironically, though, it was because of the draft that more young men were not sacrificed in Vietnam.
In the end, it was the draft that ended that war.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, teachers and friends said that the war had to be over. No longer would they allow young men to be sent off to Vietnam. There had been enough sacrifice in that distant land. There would be no parades, no celebrations, but there would also be no more deaths. The War Gods had to be satisfied with the lives they had gotten.
We are at war today. Most of us have not been to fight in that war, nor do we intend to. The ones who do go are volunteers. Some of them have to be that human price that must be paid. But what will be the final price in this war? With Vietnam, the final price was almost 60,000 lives.
So, yes, it is time to start the military draft. And when that happens, I believe more than a few will look up suddenly from their TVs, iPads and cell phones and exclaim, “Hey, wait a minute – nobody said anything about a draft!”
Bruce Hoem, Vietnam, 68-70