Turning 18 brings with it many changes in a young person’s life —including graduating from high school and being able to vote. If you are male, you also must sign up for the draft.
As many of my friends reach this milestone, we have paused to think about what this means. Because the draft only affects males, one of the first questions is, “Why?” Is it because males are more intelligent, stronger or braver? Even the most naive among us knows intelligence does not play a part and neither does bravery. It could be argued that males are stronger but that is certainly not true in every case.
The Selective Service System is prepared to manage a draft under congressional authorization using a registry of young men ages 18 through 25. President Bush has said there will be no need for a draft any time soon but reports continue to flow from Iraq that what the United States needs over there — more than anything else — is additional manpower.
Despite trying, I could not find any reference as to why females are not included in the draft, even though the entire system was revamped in 1971. It would be disingenuous to say that I or any of my female friends would like to be part of the draft. On the other hand, excluding us could be considered sexist as well as impractical.
The value we place on our young citizens should extend equally to both males and females. It is a terrifying and heartbreaking thought to think of one of my male friends being drafted into a war. Their reactions about having to register have ranged from nonchalance to annoyance, from blatant patriotism to unabashed fear. It is an entirely different matter if they have chosen to join the service on their own and are willing to serve in that honorable position.
As a female, the draft may not apply to me personally but it affects my friends, my classmates and my two brothers, ages 20 and 21. With the headlines bombarding us with stories of conflicts, unrest and terrorism, there is certainly the chance that the draft may be reinstated. Females will have a role, whether as a part of the draft or the crucial support system behind every potential draftee.
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