For Memorial Day, Michele and I went up the Golden Gate National Cemetery and then went home and watched Hacksaw Ridge, a true-story war movie by Mel Gibson. While we were walking around at the Cemetery, I felt like a voyeur and it struck me that I have nobody to mourn who is here. Other people did, other people who were here had friends or family members who were killed in combat, but nobody I loved or even knew, died in combat and I don’t think any of my friends mourned anybody either.
America has been at almost constant war my whole life and it hasn’t personally touched me. That is more than sad, it is tragic. Not for me, but for our country. By eliminating the draft, we have separated most of the American people from the consequences of our constant war. By eliminating the draft, the Military-Industrial Complex – us, really, as in our country – have been able to change the dynamic from people protesting the war because they or their loved ones might get killed to fetishizing our military.
When we had the draft, most rich people could get deferred still enough people got drafted for it to change our national dynamic. Enough people actually went into the military to see how stupid the military was. During the 60s and early 70s – when we still had the draft – people joked that “military intelligence” was an oxymoron because enough people saw the military from the inside. They were much less likely to believe the fantasy of an all heroic, all-conquering military. When a large portion of the population are faced with the potential of being sent into whatever meat-grinder our government is currently touting as critical to saving the world, they are more likely to question the actual worth of that war. I think that lack of national involvement is tragic.