The establishment of the all-volunteer force marked the beginning of the end for most families' connection with or contribution to the military, and today it risks permanently dividing America's citizenry. The revival of Selective Service would help reverse the alienation and make the armed forces a better reflection of the general population.
Then there is a story you may already have heard, about a festival in France that is apropos to our interest here. There was a little village in France that held its traditional harvest festival—a week of celebration and thanks. As each family began to gather its part of the food and drink, the villagers decided to make the filling of the wine barrel a cooperative effort. Each family was to bring its own wine, the wine they had made themselves, and pour it into the community barrel. At the climax of the celebration, the mayor was asked to open the barrel and begin the round of toasts. When he opened the spigot, however, and tasted the first glass, he discovered it was only water. Only water. You see, each villager, not willing to give of himself, had brought water—and saved his own wine at home. Each was so sure that, in so large a barrel, his little water would never be noticed. 1
National telephone surveys conducted annually by the Department of Defense reveal that young Americans' interest in joining the armed forces remains low. The 1998 Youth Attitude Tracking Study, used in the formulation of our 1999 recruiting strategy, revealed that only 26% of the young men and 13% of the young women surveyed were willing to consider some form of military service. 2