June 1, 2023

America needs to bring back the draft


     Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation should be required reading for every high school student in America.

      If you don’t know which generation is the “greatest,” I concur with the famed broadcaster who gave his answer. He wrote, “They came of age during the Great Depression and Second World War and went on to build modern America—men and women whose everyday lives of duty, honor, achievement and courage gave us the world we have today.”                                                                                                                    

      Did you take time on Memorial Day to watch Old Glory flutter in the breeze and realize its significance?

      The estimated headcount of people living inside America's borders surpasses 330 million. If you asked, ''What is Old Glory?" how many “duhs” would you get? If you asked people to explain the significance of Memorial Day, how many would shrug their shoulders?  

      The sad answer is that too many have never acknowledged the sacrifices of the men and women who died to preserve our freedoms.

      Read the obituaries.

Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw’s 

book, in my opinion, should 

be required reading for every 

American high school student.

      You’ll see that the men and women described by Brokaw are disappearing. As they die, we need to be asking: ''Who will take their places?"

      As underscored in The Greatest Generation, those Americans fought to keep Old Glory waving, as well as keeping our tongues speaking English rather than German or Japanese.

      Today—in the tradition of their parents and grandparents—we have men and women spilling their blood to keep us safe. Our gratitude should be immense. Instead, a malignant sense of entitlement is growing. Too many are declaring, “America owes me!” That attitude spells trouble. Every generation is obligated to give of themselves if we are to keep our nation free and strong.

      If my grandmother were alive, she'd be 123. And she'd say, "We've got some folks that need a knot yanked in their tail."

      Figuratively, that's what we need.

      I recommend bringing back the draft in two forms: military and community service. Those opting to be freedom fighters would serve two years. Nonmilitary personnel’s commitment would be 12 months. Boot camp would be an enriching experience for every able-bodied young person. Basic training would build discipline and stamina, while adding needed structure to too many young lives adrift.

      Most of the draftees would be nonmilitary. Assignments could include cleaning up urban blight, rebuilding flood and tornado disaster areas, volunteering in hospitals, or restoring national parks. College isn’t for everyone, but we can help each generation gain skills that will improve employability, which leads to productivity. For those who have dropped out of school, provide a path for them to earn a G.E.D. And for those who are academically capable, let them mentor struggling students. The possibilities are unlimited.

      But can America afford this?

      We can, if we realign our priorities and federal spending.

      Here's just one example: Look at the explosive growth of crime-fighting and the cost of prisons. We will always need steel bars and guards, but why not put more investment into keeping our young out of jail? I think dispensing hope—through education—is a powerful key in solving unacceptable issues. Complex problems don’t get solved easily, but I believe a draft-type program could help address many of America’s woes.

      On Memorial Day, I saw a giant Old Glory fluttering atop a highway construction crane on U.S. 1.

      That got me to thinking, again.    

      Who will take the place of the “greatest generation?”