Draft Dodgers

As you know, not many soldiers wanted to go to the war, they did everything they could to get out of it.


They came up with different ideas to try and escape being drafted into the war. They fled to Canada or they ran off to try and get into college to escape the draft. No one wanted to be sent away, they were all too young to be flown to a different continent trained to kill people.


As they escaped, some began to feel regret and disappointment in themselves.


Draft dodgers knew the courageous thing to do would be to go off to war, but in their minds and hearts, they knew there was a good chance they could not handle it.
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"All those eyes on me - the town, the whole universe - and I couldn't risk the embarrassment" (O'Brien 59)
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There were many ways to resist being drafted to the Vietnam war. People could resist going to the war in ways such as burning draft cards, refusing induction and demonstrating.
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Taking after the civil rights movement and their demonstrations and ideas, the degree of civil disobedience wound up to draft dodgers undergoing long prison terms, and others fleeing to different countries and starting a whole new life. All these men had a choice to face. To enlist in the war and get it over with, wait to be drafted, to cooperate or not with the Selective Service Act. To fake a medical disability or not and so on. Every one of the drafted soldiers ran, lived up to their call of duty, or whatever the case may be, some of them made honorable decisions, others did not.

During the war, there was a combined revolt including soldiers inside the military and, larger civilian anti-war movements. Unless you were part of the "hawks", you were part of the "doves", people who were completely against the war and all for keeping peace. Most people had believed that this war is a huge waste of time, money, and lives. They also believed that this was all a huge lie and no person wanted to fight in a war that they believed was pointless.


Fleeing the draft was the first thing that had come to most of the minds of these young men. Running away seemed like the logical reaction, but running away would make them seem like cowards and thats not what they wanted. There were a few that were all for going away and fighting for their country and their freedom. Others that went away, could not handle the horrifying day-to-day experiences, so they hurt themselves to get away. But no matter what they did, even if they were there for just a day, they were permanently mentally and, in some cases, physically scarred for the rest of their lives.
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As the 1960s went on, chaos of protesting the war was spreading drastically. College campuses started becoming crucibles of antiwar protest. As students came to protest a horrific, unsupported war, it started out as campus bureaucracy, and an upcoming college graduation that would sign them up for being drafted. Since the draft hovered over students’ futures, and present lives, it also happens it provided a way for direct resistance to war on each individual's student's personal level. Student activism and protest was highly urged to practice.

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Beginning in 1964, students began burning their draft cards as acts of defiance. By 1969, student body presidents of hundreds of universities wrote to the White House to let them know they personally planned to refuse being drafted into war and serving their duty. They would only be joining the half million others who would follow during the course of the drafting of the war and the war itself. Selective Service Centers and campus military recruiters, like ROTC, were saw as the enemy and were immediately subject to protest.
Draft Resistance flyer
Draft Resistance flyer

Now in the 1970's, draft resistance came to its all time high, everywhere. There were more objectors and refusers and protestors of the war than actual people who went to the war and followed the draft letter. The Selective Service later reported that over two hundred thousand soldiers were described as disobedient during the entire war period. Draft resisters, combined with the antiwar movement on campuses and even inside the military, was more than successful. There was way too many people to legally punish or send to jail. The number of draft resisters was so great, President Carter was pretty much forced to pass a compromising rule to all those who had fled from the draft. He was giving them an "out of trouble" pass to return to the United States. Out of over two hundred thousand draft flees, less than nine thousand were accused, convicted, or punished.

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After Tim O'Brien had graduated college, he had received his draft letter. But he decided that he was too good for war. Tim was against going to fight in a war that he didn't believe in. Outside peers had tried to convince him that he should go and fight. But even under the pressure, he couldn't make the decision on whether or not to go off to war, or flee. He decided that he wanted to work for the summer instead of going. Every night he'd come home smelling of pig. He decided enough was enough and even though he supports the war under certain circumstances, he still doesn't feel that he wants to fight. But he does, he feels that he's a coward if he doesn't go off and fight, but he feels like a coward that he's going anyway. Although he went and fought, he has learned so many life lessons. He's stuck withmemories that will never go away.

Tim O'Brien's Thoughts On The War:


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