A Volunteer Military or a Draft?
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Grade Level: 7-12+
Should you be forced to participate in something for the benefit of others?
Historically, the rights of citizenship and the obligations of military service have often been linked, from the city-states of ancient Greece to the nation-states of 19th century Europe. A significant exception to this rule was the United States, until the Civil War, when military conscription was used by both the Union and the Confederacy. Contrary to popular mythology, opposition to the draft did not begin with the Vietnam War, nor did the nation volunteer en masse for the world wars. An estimated 300,000 men evaded the draft during WWI. Most of the 16 million American soldiers in WWII were drafted.
In the 1960s, the draft became the focal point for opposition to the Vietnam War. After much debate, a presidential commission recommended ending the draft, and in 1973 the All-Volunteer Army became a reality. But the debate over military conscription continues today: Does having a draft make war more or less likely? Should citizenship be linked to compulsory military service? Or is the individual's right to choose paramount?