Bond, Julian. "How the Draft Dodged Me." New York Times,
February 15, 1992, p. 23.
By the time Julian Bond wrote this article in 1992, it was known that
[former President] Bill Clinton, [Vice President] Dick Cheney, [House
Majority Leader] Tom DeLay and
[former Vice President] Dan Quayle had used the National Guard,
student deferments, and other similar methods to avoid combat in
Vietnam (currently President George W. Bush is coming under fire for the issue).
Said Bond, "Unlike them, I didn't know anybody on my draft
board. Georgia's draft boards were all white, too." However, like
these politicians, he did manage to avoid combat... but under completely
Bond relates how in 1961 he received the draft classification 4-Y after
taking his physical. Draft designation 4-Y meant that as far as the
military was concerned, Bond was,
"mentally, physically, or morally unfit. Not to be called except in
case of national emergency."
Bond met the news with a mix of happiness and confusion. He didn't
have to serve in combat, but after he learned he passed his mental
and physical tests, he was left to wonder what made him "morally
Bond soon realized that it resulted from his 1960 arrest at a sit-in
for a segregated lunch counter in the Atlanta City Hall. He was not
drafted, therefore, due to the fact that his draft board saw service
as a privelege for which he was not worthy. The head of the draft
board later regretted their decision. "That nigger Julian Bond. We
sure let him slip through our fingers."
Bond closed by reflecting that,
"This episode may offer a word of caution to those who look critically
and too generally at my generation. Not all of us manipulated the
system to escape the Army. The system itself happily manipulated
some of us out of harm's way. And some of us saw parallels in our
own country to charges that the war in Vietnam was a war of northern
aggression. Our cast-off textbooks from white schools had told us the
Civil War was a war of northern agression, too.
As we hear today how common it was to use graduate school as an escape
hatch from Vietnam, some of us remember a different war we were already
fighting here at home."