We are hearing a lot about the 1% of Americans who own most of the nation’s wealth. There’s another 1% too, the U.S. military, made up of only 1% of the U.S. population. Our nation responds to emergencies, military and non-military all over the planet, with only 1½ million in uniform plus a similar number in the reserves. China, with 1.3 billion people, four times our population, has a combined active and reserve military about the same. India, with 1 billion people, has fewer.
Yet the capacity to muster military force is not why I want a return of the draft. Many Americans feel alienated from America. Five minutes of Tea Party rhetoric, you realize how desperately. Most have had no chance to join the living fabric of America, and although they dub themselves “patriots,” they are, in fact, anti-American. A draft could change that.
The draft I envision is not limited to traditional military specialties. Recruits could choose duties okay for those whose religion forbids them from ever picking up a weapon. Draftees and volunteers alike could opt to join a Conservation Corp, like the old CCC with vital jobs restoring rivers, saving habitats of endangered species, patrolling fishing grounds.
The military has long been ahead of the nation as a whole in religious, racial, gender, and sexual equality, and teaches the value of diversity to those from isolated, often backward communities. It would now open its ranks to include those with manageable disabilities, like flat feet, poor eyesight, asthma, etc,
putting them proudly to work in the countless jobs they could do well.
As for those who find their calling long before draft age, musicians, dancers, math geniuses, etc., the military has bands (photo above, United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” formed in 1922), would now have orchestras, choruses, even dance troupes (dance troops!) who do ballet and tap classes in
addition to military drill. And young scientists are desperately needed for the military’s advanced technologies.
Giving two or three years to the military would restore our “citizen” army, along with the unity we possessed during World War 2, and without which we fracture, like our desperately dysfunctional Congress. Nothing can eliminate the few unfortunate loners who never feel part of anything, yet a universal and enriched draft would offer every American a chance to serve and feel part of the
life blood of our nation. Bring it back!