A link I followed from the local TV website where I go for weather
The site roughly follows the Vietnam war chronologically but the link failed me around the Pentagon protests. (1970? Earlier?) My awareness of the war and that I was in line for the lottery was coming to my forefront right around that time. (Graduated high school 1971. We didn't have a TV so I saw far less than my classmates.)
Growing up just outside Boston with both my parents from families that were well established before the Revolution, I had a childhood steeped in our struggle for independence. How we fought both the British troops and the Hessian mercenaries they brought over. Now, this could be viewed as embellishments and national pride. But I also listened to my grandfather talk of his experiences in WWI. Experiences he had never said a word of to anyone and felt should not go to the grave with him. My favorite relative, by far, installed in my mind at a very early age (starting around 7) what he saw as a corporal on the front. (He didn't say this, but my dad told me he was one two a company of 26 replacement corporals who came home, both wounded.) As a 13 yo, my cousin and I used to look at the famous coffee table quality book of photos from that war, including the battle my grandfather fought.
So, I grew up with a deep sense of 1) the right of a nation to be free from outside military interference and 2) the very real horrors of war. And now I was being asked to submit myself to an arm of this government founded on the principles of 1) to go to a nation that was zero threat to us and quite possibly be asked to pull the trigger on a man there fighting for his homeland on his soil. (I wasn’t sure I could and knowing that, that I had no business being a foxhole mate.)
I also knew the primary job of a medic was to patch up the injured and send them back to the front; ie support more of the (to me) unethical. And there was no way I was going to leave this land that I had roots to that went back longer than the government. Not being a church member in a town that had never (to my knowledge) issued a Conscientious Objector, I felt that federal prison was a very real possibility if I got a low number. (I was also quite aware that my willingness to fight to defend this land while on this land also disqualified me.)
Winter of 1970 was the low point of my life. Christmas break I seriously considered taking my life. I bought some opiated hashish from a classmate, my first ever drug of any type. God was looking after me. It was perfumed junk and nothing happened. Had the opium been real, that might well have started me a journey to a very dark place. (Two weeks later I bought some mescaline from the same kid and it was very real.) Luckily for me, I fell in love with a girl and went from the lowest low of my life to a manic high that lasted all winter and spring. Senior year was a lot more fun. I went off to college and at the end of the semester, got my reprieve. #264. I was free. The next year, I attended the protest in Washington of Nixon's inauguration. And got to see our government's lies first hand. The paper the next day published official estimates of the protest's numbers as 50,000 people. No. You could not remotely seat that crowd at my schools football stadium. Not even close. And the police were saying half the seats would be empty.
So back to the photos of that link. I saw nothing like that growing up; no TV. But I did see the equivalent photos of WWI. That our nation should ever bring that to anyone, anywhere, without very good reason is, in my mind, simply criminal.