Service thoughts: compulsory, voluntary, military, civilian

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Wed Jan 8 14:47:16 MST 2003

The various list discussions on pros-and-cons vis-a-vis the draft and
government-mandated "universal service" are interesting. I continue to be
opposed to any military draft and to any compulsory government service. I
believe strongly, as many have said, that if something is worth defending
and doing, people will voluntarily come forth to handle that responsibility
with courage and effectiveness.

As a father and a rapidly proliferating grandfather [!], I'm certainly
vigorously committed to the broadest possible quality education -- higher
education and/or skilled trades -- for everyone.  And for good and solid
jobs forevermore.

I have long felt that a worthy "interim" goal at this point of growing
national economic crisis would be a revival of the old New Deal and
voluntary Civilian Conservation Corps for American young people -- with
attractive pay and fringes, union representation, and including GI bill
educational assistance.  The CCCs made a major, lasting contribution to our
American West -- and to the vast number of young people who participated in
that very constructive endeavour. I'm old enough to have, as a very young
kid, known many of them.  Streamlined and feathered-out today, a CCC
revival would be a significantly positive step.

It isn't simply economic privation   -- or idealism -- that sends many young
people voluntarily into the United States military. Those factors are often
frequently involved.  But, even though in the final analysis, the military
of this country still remains very close indeed to Norman Mailer's excellent
characterization of the Old Army --  generally tough, class stratification,
inhibited liberty -- it's also an arena in which, for example, an 18 year
old, regardless of race or ethnicity or social class, is treated like an
adult and given adult training and responsibilities. In short, it definitely
has its appeals. In its own interesting way, there's a rough and ready

That said, I didn't encourage my children to voluntarily join the
military -- as I did and my father before me.  And they did not.  I don't so
encourage my developing grandchildren.  My oldest grandson -- almost 21 --
and I talked of this yesterday.  "My friends all tell me to finish my
college education," he said, "before going into the military."  And I said
to him, "Your best friend is me -- and my advice is don't go near the
military, ever, unless the Cause is morally compelling in the deepest

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]

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