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Two Questions

Old Guy

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My eldest daughter recently ran into a man my age who bragged about burning his draft card and running off to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. She and I have discussed the issue of draft dodgers before and she knows I hold no grudges against them. In my opinion most reacted to the prospect of being drafted with plain fear and allowed that emotion to drive their decisions.

At the time, service in Vietnam was being portrayed by the Left and the media as a death sentence for draftees. Vets were being characterized as brutal murderers. It's not hard to see how a young man might be frightened enough to run as far away as possible.

Most Vietnam vets respect the anti-war types who stayed and fought the system. Many served time in jail. Those men displayed a commitment to their beliefs that almost anyone can appreciate and admire.

My daughter was put off by the man's attitude. She felt he'd never really examined his motives. Most of us, when we reach late adulthood, if not sooner, take a serious look back at our lives and judge ourselves based on subsequent life experience. This self-analysis is something this man didn't seem to have done.

"He doesn't seem to have ever asked himself the two questions, Dad."

Yeah. We've had this conversation before. She knows about the two questions a Vietnam Vet never has to ask himself. Here they are:

1. Who went in my place?

2. Is that man's name on the Wall?

Every person who avoided the draft, by whatever means, has to consider these questions. Vietnam vets, whether they volunteered (which includes about 70% of such veterans) or were drafted, do not have to ask themselves if anyone went in their place. We DO wonder about our motives. The young men we once were did a lot of things we no longer fully understand. Mostly, we've come to terms with ourselves and our service. Some never will. And if the old draft dodger my daughter met is representative of the breed, some of the runaways have never looked back and wondered about what they did -- have never asked themselves the two questions.


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