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Back Talk

The American Draft System: Is It Necessary-Outdated?

Fredi Hairston Larry Billion

By: Fredi Hairston and Larry Billion

Source: "Back Talk," Virginia Tech, 13 October 1967.
The original text, spelling, and punctuation have been retained.


The draft, as it exists in America, today, is a futile product of the past. The need for military power was great when the draft was established. Manpower was limited. However, the social structure of America has changed considerably since then. It is no longer the norm for a young man to conclude his education with high school. Also, the apex of nationalistic militarism which existed at that time is not a part of present-day American life.

The major inconsistency in the American system is summed up by the somewhat tired argument that an eighteen year old boy can die on a field of battle for his country, yet he does not possess the right, in most states, to vote, consume alcoholic beverages, or even marry. The justification for this non-equilibrate state of affairs has never been expounded upon by the ruling elite. From this fact it is easy to see why a young man facing military service might decide that he is not ready to die or to be maimed and proceed to "dodge the draft." "Why should I give my life so that another man can enjoy the privileges which I can not possess?" This is the burning question in the mind of many young men. And it is a most valid one. What right has this, or any other, government to say to its citizens, "You are going to fight for another man's rights, whether or not you have these same rights or not"? If the government has such an extensive power over the lives of its young men now, what will be its extent in the future?

I do not, however, endorse the burning of draft cards in protest to this outdated system. I must explain that this action does nothing to eliminate the cause of the discontent--the draft itself. If the draft card burners would channel their energies into the writing of letters to the power structure of this country, their chances of success would be greatly increased. To those who are more aggressively anti-draft than I, I must explain that I also feel that if letters are of no avail, militant action is the only recourse open.

"Draft-dodging" is held to be a serious crime when it should not. Sending a man to prison for refusing to serve in the military is asinine. Not only does the country not receive the service of the man as part of the military, but private enterprise and government agencies other than the military are denied whatever contributions this individual might make. Of what value is this?

The only conclusion to draw from the condition of the draft system is that it must either be abolished or reconstructed. The day of the existing law has passed, a modern system must be established for the modern world.


Draft dodgers and dissenters are definitely acting in a manner uncalled for, which must be absolved before adverse consequences result. The United States, in its existing condition of world involvement, cannot afford to have such internal difficulties. We must win the war in Vietnam to preserve this countries' world position and security. Therefore, the draft system is of utmost need and cannot logically be abolished.

Presently, the United States is actively involved in the Vietnam conflict. We, the people of America, cannot do anything CONSTRUCTIVE about this situation until November of 1968. This is the time that the eligible citizens select the government to represent them and determine this countries' foreign policy. If citizens do not support the policy of the United States, this is the time to reveal this objection. At this time, something constructive can be accomplished concerning the Vietnam conflict policy.

Draft dodgers, who burn their draft cards and run to Canada, are a problem which must be absolved. Certainly, few citizens of this country are anxious to go to the Vietnam front, serve their country and possibly lose their life. However, it is each and every capable males' DUTY to answer a call to military service. One must not avoid this responsibility to his nation, even if an individual is anti-draft and anti-Vietnam. The United States desperately needs these fighting men to combat the spread of the communistic ideology.

The draft is a useful method for this nation to procure necessary forces to protect our country. Until a better method can be established and passed through Congress, the present system must suffice and remain. Even though certain people may be against the draft principle, we must all support its use. The defense of the United States is of primary concern and must be remembered at all times. It was to maintain the security and defense of this nation that the draft was first conceived.

At this time, the welfare of America is again being attacked. If the Vietnam conflict (war?) does not terminate in a favorable manner, communism will spread throughout the world. Eventually the United States would be the target. We MUST stop the communistic advance in Southeast Asia, NOW! The draft can not presently be removed without causing great harm to this nation. Our military strength would be diminished to a degree which would alleviate defeat. We certainly can not afford such a result. This factor alone, gives sufficient and undeniable support to the draft system.

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