On April 25, 2019, the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service hosted a public hearing on policy options related to selected service, also known as the military draft.
The hearing, entitled “Should Registration be Expanded to All Americans?”, provided a venue for public feedback to inform the commissioners’ recommendations for their final report to Congress, the President, and the American people in March 2020.
Chris Kearns-McCoy, a Quaker who attends Friends Meeting of Washington and a current FCNL Young Fellow, offered a public comment.
Comment Submitted to the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service
Hello, my name is Chris Kearns-McCoy, and I live in Washington, D.C.
I am a Quaker—and as a Quaker I oppose all war. I am also a young person, part of a generation that has not meaningfully known a country that is at peace.
These endless wars are a grave injustice against the young people of this country—one that would only be made worse by an expansion of the selective service.
I was five years old on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers fell not 15 miles from my home in North Jersey. That day is one of my very earliest memories.
After 9/11, one war in Afghanistan turned into another in Iraq, turned into too many conflicts to count. Many of the people fighting our wars today do not remember 9/11. I’m 22 years old, right in the middle of the selective service window, and I know that my age cohort is one of the very youngest that remember that day. Americans are now eligible to fight in Afghanistan who were not born on September 11, 2001. These endless wars are a grave injustice against the young people of this country—one that would only be made worse by an expansion of the selective service.
My eighteenth birthday was a bittersweet day for me—it meant becoming a legal adult, but it also meant I had to register for the Selective Service, knowing one day I may have to stand up and say, “No, I will not kill.”
My father’s generation lived the great tragedy of having thousands of its brightest flames extinguished in Vietnam, with no choice of their own, in service of a foreign policy that viewed young people as expendable resources. I pray that we have the wisdom and humanity to never repeat that mistake. But as long as Selective Service registration is required, or anything like it, my generation, and future generations to come, will live with the Sword of Damocles above our heads—of being forced to kill and die.