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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Pardon Under Controversy

This Day in History: January 21, 1977

War is ugly. War is cruel. War has raged somewhere on the planet Earth since the beginning of time. While some situations can and have been resolved without acts of war, often War is unavoidable, inevitable and always carries with it extreme violence, death and destruction. What about those serving, electing to serve or not, during wartime? or Being drafted to serve without any question, discussion or possible choice? You serve or risk being classified a deserter or labeled a draft-dodger for the rest of your life. This is a tough subject to approach because of so much controversy surrounding war and the soldiers of war, especially when the purpose of American participation in the war is under fire.

U.S. anti-Vietnam War protesters
at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
A placard to the right reads
"Use your head - not your draft card"
Controversy surrounds this day in history...

On this day in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter granted an unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. This was a war plagued with protest and controversy from the time America first entered into the conflict. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962. U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965.

The Vietnam War occurred during the time when the draft (Selective Service) was still in effect. To provide manpower to the U.S. Armed Services, men were drafted to fill vacancies since there was a lack of sufficient number of volunteers. This occurred from 1948 - 1973 and was not limited to periods of conflict but also enforced during peacetime.

Statistics show some 100,000 young Americans went abroad in the late 1960s and early 70s. Why? The answer: To avoid the draft, to avoid serving in the war. After the war ended, it has been reported that a total of 209,517 men were formally accused of violating draft laws. That is not where the numbers end either. Government officials estimate another 360,000 were never formally accused.

President Jimmy Carter Announces Pardon Of US Draft Dodgers
January 21, 1977

During his 1976 presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter promised to pardon draft dodgers as a way of putting the war and the bitter divisions it caused firmly in the past. After winning the election, Carter wasted no time in making good on his word. Carter's decision created a lot of controversy back in the U.S. with the Vietnam-era draft evasion still carrying a powerful stigma to this day.

Though no prominent political figures have been found to have broken any draft laws, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Vice-Presidents Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney--none of whom saw combat in Vietnam--have all been accused of being draft dodgers at one time or another. Although there is not currently a draft in the U.S., desertion and conscientious objection have remained pressing issues among the armed forces during the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Read the whole story here: President Carter pardons draft dodgers.