Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You put a gun in my hand, And you hide from my eyes

As a young man, facing a draft into the Viet Nam-era Army, I did everything I could to avoid service.

In 1969, I turned 20. The Viet Nam war was raging on, and the Nixon Administration, in an effort to add more bodies to the Army, held the first Draft Lottery on Dec. 1. Based on birthdays, mine was drawn 13th. Holy crap!

I was actually called up for a physical, but managed to keep from being drafted. Orthodontic headgear and a bum knee worked that magic. But with such a low number, I was initially pretty scared. I did discuss going to Canada with a new friend from Vancouver, who told me she could find me places to stay, but once my deferment came through, I stayed in the US.

I felt strongly then, as I still feel, that the Viet Nam war was a disaster for the US and for Viet Nam. Much like Iraq, we wasted money and lives on a stupid ideological war that benefitted no one except for military-industrial manufacturers.

All that said, I have no problem with the many who went and served. Some felt they had no choice, others disagreed with the war but felt they had to serve the country. And some actually felt it was a just war that called them up. Regardless, all were brave, and all who served deserve our undying respect.

Because someday, those in our military may have to fight in a necessary war, to save lives, help battle genocide, or stop starvation somewhere. As much as I hate war and violence of any kind, it would be foolish to believe that it won't ever happen. And when it does, we will need our Armed Services.

The men & women in our military do what the civilian leaders tell them to do, go where they are told to go. I truly believe our new President will not dishonor them the way the Bush administration has. As our brave defenders, they deserve better.

Happy Veteran's Day.