I'm part of that mid-baby-boomer cohort of men who didn't get drafted but also didn't have the mental or moral freedom associated with the All-Volunteer Military. Fact of the matter is that I went through the Draft Lottery of the early 1970s and drew number 265, which placed me far out of harm's way while exposing less fortunate peers to a tour of duty in Vietnam. I could have volunteered for military service, but didn't, and didn't really consider it (a later near brush with voluntary service in the Air Force JAG Corps, which would have exposed me to little risk other than a possible tongue-lashing from a military judge, in no way exculpates me on that score).
So I truly do honor those men and women who served and suffered for me and thee, whether they answered a compulsory call from Uncle Sam or didn't wait for the draft notice. And I remain convinced, despite my own luck and self-interested decisions, that this country should do every thing necessary short of compulsion to make some sort of national service, military or civilian, a way of life for each new generation of young people.
If that happens, then on Memorial Day we can express thanks for the sacrifices of those before us not as a guilt-offering of the fortunate and the privileged, but as comrades who have shared their willingness to place America's defense, and freedom's cause, above their own safety and comfort. Moreover, God willing, we can live in a country whose leaders do not make tax cuts for the most comfortable Americans their top war-time priority, profaning the spirit of common sacrifice and patriotism in a way that should make us all uncomfortable each Memorial Day until Washington is finally set right. --