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  1. Reflecting on my military service in the Vietnam war and the Cold War, I find that I have mixed feelings about the concept of “patriotism” as it applied to combatants, both dead and alive. To be sure, “freedom” demands defending, given the myriad examples of the alternatives throughout history. Paradoxically however, war itself requires a surrender of individual freedoms on a massive scale. This is nowhere more apparent than in conscription, something that was used in our country for the first time in the Civil War and subsequently in WW II, the Korean war, and of course in the Vietnam war. How many combatants served primarily through patriotism and how many for other reasons, e.g., draft avoidance, can never be truly known, but the history of conscription, a subject slighted in many school texts, is revealing. I came across this interesting scholarly paper on the subject this morning.

    • I’d not thought about the paradox you describe, but it certainly exists. What I have wondered is whether conscripts/draftees can ever be expected to fight as well or as hard as volunteers. But I suppose once you’re under fire, self-preservation, if nothing else, will be your motivation. The article you mention was very interesting. I had no idea how complex the Civil War manpower/draft situation got. Too complex to explain in most history texts. Interesting to note that even back then, escaping the draft by fleeing to Canada was a thing.

      And I am left, once again, contemplating my only grandson’s departure for Marine boot camp in September. I’m both proud and fearful.

  2. Technically the Government and the Library of Congress refer to it as “The Vietnam Conflict”; Those who served there refer to it as a War.

"A republic, if you can keep it." -- Benjamin Franklin

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