If you know me at all you know I am not a morning person. But getting up really early ( I think 6am on a weekend qualifies) to honor people who were drafted in older wars and conflicts and volunteered to put themselves in harm's way in more recent years - and lost their life because of it, seems so utterly insignificant and I feel compelled to do it.

I marched and felt truly strange when people along the parade route mouthed their thank yous and applauded. You see, I thank the military for helping to shape who I am. In fact, I'm an advocate of compulsory service. It might sound really radical to some but when I think of the benefits and how other great countries have compulsory service it just seems to me like a good idea.

I often hear people say how startled they are when they go to Cancun and see military all over the place. It's a shock because in the US we're not used to seeing armed military doing highway safety checks and patrolling cities and beaches. They are first responders when there is a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake and they are very good at it. I was living there during a hurricane and they quickly had supplies to us on Cozumel.

Mexico fought with allies in WWII but since has only had internal rebel skirmishes so they use the military to do public works projects - kind of like our Army Corp of Engineers, airport security inspections and provide security for ports, etc. If you don't serve you can't vote and you can't get a passport to leave the country. You're expected to "give something" to your country in order to get those benefits. I can't say I object.

You think this is odd? It's not odd at all. Many countries have similar military conscription programs and of course all have voluntary service. The United Kingdom, Austria, Liberia and other countries allow enlistment at 16 years old.

I am participating on a panel this Wednesday at a college about high school drop out re-engagement. What if we offered drop outs a 2 year enlistment that included an intensive GED program and then a traditional military career school? At 18 they would have earned their GED, learned a career, earned 2 years of salary - not spent time on public assistance, served their country and become independent productive adults.

I think I'm going to propose that.

What do you think?


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