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Students Talk About The Draft

The Early Show: CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith wanted to hear what high school kids have to say, since they'd be in line to get called up if we brought back the draft.
CBS/The Early Show
CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith wanted to hear what high school kids have to say, since they'd be in line to get called up if we brought back the draft.

And they brought back to mind that a lot of what you think about war can suddenly change, when you're faced with the possibility that you might be the one doing the fighting.

It used to be the most riveting reality TV, the draft lottery, Americans watched to find out if they, or their loved ones, might be headed to Vietnam.

Of course today's military is all voluntary, and it gets its soldiers through ads rather than drafts. But when New York Congressman Charles Rangel said this:

"Military and national service for all our young people." It conjured up images like people burning their draft cards during ant-draft protests. Or did it?

Smith talked to five kids from the New York suburb of Scarsdale, who were thinking more about where they'd be going to college than whether they might be going to war.

"It's very difficult for us, I guess, our generation to think that a draft would affect us," says High School Senior Julia Gordon.

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For these kids drafts and wars are the stuff of history books. The last draft ended more than a decade before they were born. And the Gulf War? Most of them were only in kindergarten when it was fought.

And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says a draft just isn't going to happen. "There is no need for it. At all."

Still, when students were asked consider how a draft might affect them, Joe Zakierski said, "To me, if I was drafted, I'd go, do my country a service. But I don't think you have to fight to be a loyal American. I don't think that you aren't an American if you try to get out of it."

Caroline Levin, another senior said, "Its very easy to say that you are pro draft and that just that you know there shouldn't be one group going to war as opposed to another until it comes close to home."

So how much of their view of the war change when they think that it might be them or their friends fighting on the front lines?

"When I think that people who I've had experiences with, maybe even some of my closest friends would be the ones defending our country, I just would think twice about whether they were there for the right reasons, says Jessica Zweifach.

What was clear to them was that a military draft should include everybody.

"If there were a draft I think that it should apply to all Americans men and women people of all backgrounds."

Interestingly, these kids only know one person even considering going into the military, so this isn't really on their radar screen.