Monday, November 20, 2006

Is it Drafty in Here?

Bring back the draft. No, I'm not kidding.

I was kidnapped off the streets by the US Government in 1968 and, more or less, sold into involuntary servitude until 1972. It wasn't the best thing that ever happened to me, nor was it the worst.

But it did do this. There was NOBODY in my "class" in boot camp who thought Viet Nam was a good idea. Nor were there any gung-ho ground-pounders in my electronics schools who couldn't wait to get "in-country" so they could eat dead, burnt Cong bodies. And by the time I actually got into fleet service, in the summer of 1969, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the war was a waste of money and lives.

And why was that good?

Because an army of involunteers is far less likely to support a coup d'etat than an army of paid mercernaries is. That's why. Many of my shipmates in the Navy, especially at my base outside of Washington (the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River) used their copious free time to volunteer for anti-war duty (organizing protests, participating in same) in Washington. I even knew some officers who were up to their eyeballs in the anti-war movement. I remember bringing fistfulls of the local underground paper in Washington, The QuickSilver Times, back to the base to distribute to my not-so-covert anti-war comrades. It contained the news that wasn't being published in the Washington Post, such as the rallying points around town for the May Day demonstrations in 1970 and '71. Demonstrations which, I would estimate, were populated by at least 1/3rd active-duty military personnel (in civvies, of course).

If you want to end an unpopular war quickly, have an armed services that's loaded with a bunch of disgruntled, shanghaied conscripts who are just one more bullshit order this side of stringing up an Admiral or General and who only pretend to have respect for authority (remember "fragging"?)

Furthermore, I still fold my socks and underwear the same way I learned in bootcamp.

Oh, and I'm not pee-shy, either. You get over being pee-shy (and poo-shy, too, for that matter) when the men's rooms (aka "heads") lack such niceties as "dividers" and "stalls." You'll go if you gotta go bad enough.

Oh, and I notice that they now have "privacy curtains" surrounding the bunks on-board ships these days. We did not have "privacy curtains." If you needed to take care of some matter of pressing, hormonal, origins, you just did it and let the chips, as it were, fall where they may.

As a gay man, I have to admit that I miss those wonderful mornings when I would awaken and look around at the forest of "morning wood" that surrounded me on the top-tier of bunks.

Ahhhh, the good old days.

So yes, please, bring back the draft.

And get rid of those friggin' privacy curtains while you're at it.


Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant essay. It needs to be submitted as an op-ed somewhere.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Um, okay. Which way should I go with it? "Out" or the LATimes?