Health & Family

Draft brings a terrible dilemma to 21-year-old

EDITOR'S NOTE: The tumultuous events of 1968 changed America forever. To mark the 40th anniversary, we are publishing readers' recollections.

In 1968, I was 21 and faced a difficult choice regarding the draft and the Vietnam war:

1. Military service (draft).

2. Refuse induction (prison).

3. Exile (Canada).

It doesn't get any worse than that.

I never reconciled my pro-peace beliefs with my father's ideological paranoia. This forever altered our relationship. I made then what I knew was a coward's choice to enter the military.

In a bizarre twist, I failed the induction physical. I recall dancing with my grandmother in celebration of my good fortune. The elation subsided as I watched the rest of the war on television. As tens of thousands of soldiers died for me in Vietnam, I felt only shame. I sentenced myself to 20 years of survivor guilt.

Awakened by Grace, I arrived at the realization that everyone's true nature is full of love and compassion even when they don't behave like it. Hardly a day goes by that I don't recall a quote from Gina Berrault: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.”

Forgiveness. It doesn't get any better than that.

Roger Colberg, is retired from the Internal Revenue Service and has lived in Mint Hill since 1979.