Memorial Day

When I graduated from college in 1971 my student draft deferment expired and, like every other guy, I had to deal with the draft. By that time it was obvious that we were going to lose, and no one wanted to be the last American killed in Viet Nam. There were only a few options. You could sit around and wait to be drafted, then spend a two year hitch as cannon fodder. You could enlist for a three year hitch, which gave you a little more choice of where and how you would die. Or, you could join the reserves. I chose the latter path; I spent my seven years of weekends and summers at an armory in Maryland. The closest I got to Viet Nam was Bo khi soup at a local restaurant. Joining the reserves was a perfectly legal and honorable alternative to the draft, if something less than heroic, so I generally don't feel bad about avoiding Viet Nam. Except today. Every Memorial Day I visit the Viet Nam Memorial in DC (I live nearby) and wonder which name is there instead of mine. I have a personal Unknown Soldier, and on this day of remembrance I thank him.

Illustration for article titled Memorial Day

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