Friday, September 11, 2015
US Army's "Spirit of America" presentation does mention the draft, but glosses over it
The second act of the U.S. Army's “Spirt of America” today, reviewed in full on my Drama and Music Reviews blog, contained a section on the Vietnam war where a soldier did talk about being drafted.
He says that he finished Basic Training and soon went to Vietnam. He then talks about unit cohesion in battle. He did return unharmed, but many men did not (and over 50,000 died).
Actually, he would have gone to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) first, had a month leave, and then been told to report for deployment. On the East Coast, most soldiers (especially draftees) reported to Fort Dix, NJ, to be flown to Oakland CA and then Vietnam.
Later the presentation does mention the switch to an all-volunteer Army shortly after the unstable peace agreement was signed in January, 1973.
But it would have been nice had the play spent a little more time on the impact that conscription and the deferment system (replaced by a lottery in 1969) had on young men and families.
There is still a Selective Service System and young men are still required to register (ages 18 to 25).
The Supreme Court did uphold the right of Congress to implement male-only conscription in 1981.
The Selective Services link is here.
There was talk about resuming the draft in 1980 after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and curiously it was in early 1981 that the official services-wide ban on gays in the military, the “Old Ban”, was promulgated (the famous “123 words”). Talk resumed in 2001, as Charles Moskos, a major author of “don’t ask don’t tell”, then advocated repealing DADT and restoring the draft.
Later today, WJLA talked about “Certain Sensitive National Security Matters”, 28 classified pages, about individuals associated with the 9/11 attacks. This seems to have something to do with prominent men in Saudi Arabia. More will come out about this, to be sure. It will be covered on “Full Measures” on ABC Oct. 4.