1967 was a volatile year for civil rights issues which added to the mix of attitudes toward Vietnam. Some individuals were rethinking what patriotism and duty to country meant. “Conscientious Objectors” entered the national dialogue. “Draft dodgers” were searching for legitimate ways to be exempted. Some were successful, many weren’t.
One of the most famous examples was Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted. His non-violent Muslim faith and membership in the Nation of Islam prohibited him from serving. He had famously said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.” Conversely, Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson supported the war in Vietnam and claimed Ali was a disgrace to his race for dodging the draft. Thurgood Marshall became the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Did I say, “The Times They are a-Changin”?
Meanwhile, we were addressing the Christmas cards we purchased at the Disneyland Hallmark store on Main Street. The front of the card had a depiction of the Three Wise Men (Magi) following the Star of Bethlehem. There were two boxes (50 cards), and we sent them all out with handwritten greetings. We even sent one to President Johnson addressed to the White House.
Neither of us had ever voted in a Presidential election; we weren’t old enough to vote in 1964 (we were only 19). The California primaries were scheduled for June 1968. Part of the process of going overseas was to designate a home address which is where an absentee ballot would be sent (my ballot would be forwarded). The political tug-of-war had already started and was narrowing down between a Peace or War candidate. We had not made any decisions on the election and wondered if the experience in Vietnam would help us decide.
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