The college and high school graduates of 2018 probably wonder what’s ahead in their lives. Not too many years ago, male graduates in particular had the years ahead laid out for them because military service was awaiting them.
We are talking about World War II in the early 1940s and the Korean War in the early 1950s. Selective Service in those wars inducted all the able-bodied young men, with few exceptions. During the Vietnam War years, there was a lottery draft but it was very unfair and rather easy to avoid service.
During WWII, especially in 1944 and 1945, when American casualties were high, a male high school graduate, in many instances, would graduate and in two or three weeks he was drafted, or enlisted to beat the draft, and three or four months later most were in combat.
During the Korean War, which broke out in 1950, the high school graduates usually were not called by the draft for a year, maybe two years. The college graduates, because most were 21 or 22, entered military service almost immediately after graduation.
During the Vietnam War, if a student was in college and had a low draft number, he could avoid military service by staying in college or by going for an advanced degree.
That’s the way it was for graduates in the 1940s, 1950s. During the Vietnam War era, in the ’60s and ’70s, a time of unrest due to the unpopular war, many of the young men who did not go to college were drafted.
Many college graduates today, those with ROTC training, enter the military a few weeks after receiving their diplomas. Like the young men before them, their immediate future is mapped out for them.
The best advice for graduates today, male and female, is to follow a moral path, look forward to a strong family life, support your church and community, build on your work ethic, prepare yourself for the changing world, don’t get discouraged by your first job and embrace the values this country has as its foundation. Continue to learn — read, read and read.