In 1973, following our nation’s involvement in Vietnam, Congress voted to discontinue the draft. This change occurred before I was born, which means I have no firsthand experience with this war or the obligatory responsibility to register for the draft. That being said, some may think the argument I am about to make is naïve, nostalgic, or perhaps just stupid.
I think it is time to reinstate the draft for all United States citizens (men AND women) between the ages of 18 and 21. Actually, I’m not sure the draft is enough. I think every citizen (male AND female) should be obligated to serve our nation for at least 2 years after they graduate from high school, or for those who drop out of school or complete their GED, when they turn 18.
For the past 40+ years, our nation has defended itself (as well as countless nations around the globe) with an all-volunteer force. My call for mandatory military service comes not because I think the United States military needs some vast overhaul. The men and women who currently serve are some of the finest patriots in our nation’s history. I don’t think the world has never known a more lethal or just fighting machine as the 21st century American military. But the fact that less than one half of one percent of our nation currently serves is an alarming statistic and one that creates several ills for our society.
The first ill is the most obvious, only a select few of our citizens put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms of all Americans. Although this 0.5% represents a nice cross-section of our population, I think it’s time that all Americans give back to the nation that has given them so much. You want to get rid of the entitlement mentality that so many have these days, or give everyone an equal opportunity to begin their adulthood…this is it. How better for our young citizens to learn to appreciate the enormous benefits they have as Americans than to spend 2 years of their lives sacrificing their time, talents, and treasures to our nation. In so doing they will earn a decent wage and improve themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally – which will do nothing but set them up for continued success if they choose to leave the military after 2 years of service. You know as well as I that most of our citizens don’t fully grasp what it means to be free and to live in a democratic republic. With only 0.5% of our country serving, it’s no wonder they don’t understand these things. And this lack of appreciation does nothing but exacerbate the narcissistic and individualist problems that I have highlighted in previous columns. Mandatory military service will put a quick halt to this.
The second ill concerns the conflicts our nation involves itself with around the globe. Again, with so few American families currently affected by the ultimate consequence of war, that is, death, it’s no wonder there is not a lot of debate or public outcry when our Commander-in-Chief deploys our military machine. You want to see change with respect to our foreign policy…have every family in our land personally invested with the decisions our military brass is making. Moreover, when more young citizens deploy to defend the cause of freedom, I guarantee you that their commitment to the American way of life will increase exponentially and with that, a rise in patriotism that will translate into a better nation for everyone.
Finally, it seems that many of our citizens increasingly believe that America should no longer be the enforcer of freedom throughout the world. There is a growing call to look inward and to stay away from conflicts they think don’t directly affect American interests. With a proportionally small number of our citizens traveling to other parts of the world and an even few number to those parts where tyranny and war rage, I don’t think the American public has any idea what would happen if our nation became genuinely isolationist. Folks, we’re it. Without the enormous American military presence our nation has shown over the past 30 years, I can’t even begin to enumerate the sheer and utter chaos that would have enveloped our country and the world. I have always been sympathetic to the isolationist creed, but the more I see of the world the more I am convinced that America must remain forever at the forefront of the call to freedom.
I doubt my call for mandatory military service will ever gain much traction. For the doubters out there, I encourage you to talk to the Israelis. They understand why such a thing needs to occur and the benefits thereof. Perhaps it’s time we Americans learn this lesson as well.