Swickard: Surprise, you’re in the Army now

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Last week two young college men were in front of me in a grocery store line. I asked them, “What do you think about the conflict in Syria? Is America about to get embroiled?” One student shrugged, “I don’t know or care since it doesn't concern me.”
     “Really,” I exclaimed, “Did both of you register for the Selective Service when you turned eighteen? They both nodded a bit puzzled. I continued, “The whole reason for Selective Service registration is so they can draft you if our country needs you to serve in the military.”
     After a pause, one said, “You can’t get college financial aid unless you register.”
     “So you had a good reason to register with Selective Service,” I said. “That’s the same Selective Service I registered with in 1968. They registered me so that later then President Richard Nixon sent me greetings.”
      I had their attention. “Didn't it occur to you that if our country gets into a big shooting war young men like you are just what our Army needs?”
     One student protested, “No that is not right. Our country has an all-volunteer military. Our country does not conscript people against their will into war.”
I smiled, “Then why did your country need you to sign up for Selective Service in the first place? They spent years pushing you to do so when you turned eighteen. They made sure you knew bad things would happen if you did not. The way I see it, our country has two more draft eligible soldiers if needed.”
      Panic crept into their eyes and I went on. “I’m 63 so they do not want me. They need young men.” I sang a verse from long ago, “You’re in the Army now, you’re in the Army now… you’ll never get out, you’ll never get out, you’re in the Army now.”
     Two geezers behind me laughed loudly. They sang that same verse again.
      Finally I asked, “Did you vote in the last election?” Both shook their heads no, “We not registered.”
      I could not help observing, “Then there is no political reason for any politician to save your butts.”
They paid at the register and hurried out. The geezers behind me laughed, “Bet they now pay attention to the world news.” Read full column


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