Sep 14, 2009

On Dusty Documents and the Selective Service System

I came across an old document yesterday while cleaning, at least "old" in terms of my own life. Pictured is an acknowledgement letter I received in 1982 from the Selective Service System that verified that I, indeed, filled out the necessary paperwork to register for the draft after I turned 18.

Of course the draft had been abolished a few years before I reached the age of majority, and it turns out that my services were never needed by the U.S. military (not to mention that my lousy eyes would have probably caused any draft board officials to fall on the floor laughing at the thought of someone with 20/600 uncorrected vision holding a rifle). Still, I remember being a bit apprehensive about officially joining a pool of people for a potential draft, even if one did not exist at the time.

So I hold onto this ancient document, even though it would have to be one hell of a war if they started drafting half-blind forty-somethings for service. I am not sure what role I might serve, or if my philosophical tendency toward pacifism could be subverted for the a given conflict. I certainly would have no problem defending my neighborhood from an invasion of wild-eyed, murderous, and starving North Koreans soldiers should they decide that Toledo could better be conquered by land instead of a Nodong-B missile carrying a nuclear payload.

(Inner Beavis: "Huh huh, he said 'no-dong.'")

Then there is the issue of whether an increasingly automated and digital military will ever need millions of foot soldiers and deck hands again. Remote controlled drone aircraft and unmanned armored vehicles are no longer the province of science fiction, and I suspect that wars of the 21st century will look much different than those of prior centuries.

Yet I will hold onto this piece of paper anyways. It survived nearly three decades of moves, housecleanings, and attacks from the lamb motor on my vacuum cleaner, so I figure the document has some hidden value based on its sheer longevity. If nothing else, the future grandkids can peruse it when I am a senescent geezer drinking day-old coffee on the front porch in my rocking chair.

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

Fortunately the US Armed Forces has a special plan in place for people just like you. It's called 'basic training', and it's a kind of sleep over camp for men and women of all ages that Uncle Sam thinks would look better under a helmet. This program has been proven and redesigned over a long period of time and is very effective at turning senescent history professors into mindless killing machines.

And so, as you regard that piece of paper, just think of all the fun you missed. Or something.