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by David G. Duggan ©
February 23, 2024

In the draft lottery of life, I got a good enough number--169--not to be called for military service during Vietnam. Ever the quipster but not knowing whether I would be drafted, my mother remarked that at least I was in the top half of my class.

Vietnam never came close to me though two older graduates of my Chicago suburban high school were killed there, and a childhood friend flew the second-to-last helicopter off the deck of our Saigon embassy on April 30, 1975 as the embassy staff and refugees were fleeing from the communists taking over the city. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Some classmates went to Canada, claimed conscientious objector status, or wound up in country. One came back without his legs.

The wars in Ukraine and now Gaza call to mind the events of nearly 50 years ago. We supposedly are no longer engaged in the "forever wars" of the Middle East, yet if you look at the map, American men and material are involved in the area that can be described as the "Middle East": east of Greenwich and midway between the equator and the North Pole.

Though Jesus never knew war, every step of His life on earth was trod in war's footprint. The Herod whom Jesus met during His trial is known as Herod Antipas. His father had taken the throne of Jerusalem after the Roman Civil War between Octavian and Mark Antony. And yet Jesus' teachings are full of allusions to armed conflict: "Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand?" Luke 14:31 (KJV). "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled." Matt. 24:6 (KJV). War is as much of the human condition as love or loyalty, peace and poverty.

Anyone who served and survived was saved for greater things. May we see those greater things during our remaining years.

David Duggan is a retired attorney living in Chicago.

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