Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I was at the tail end, agewise, of my grade in school, so I didn’t have to register for the draft, when I turned eighteen, until I was a freshman in college.

I pretty much had decided not to register.

The war in Vietnam was a horrible crime. The Selective Service System was part of the armed services and I was required, morally, to resist it.

In hindsight I was correct. But friends, especially a former teacher at St Ignatius, Mr McCurdy, S. J., worked hard to convince me to do otherwise.

McCurdy’s argument was duty to my parents.

If I resisted the draft I’d be convicted of a felony, go to jail, and have my future prospects ruined (I think by “future prospects” he was referring to financial success). This would cause extreme pain to my parents.

So, McCurdy argued, did I have the right to inflict such pain on my folks, based upon a seventeen-year-old’s undeveloped world view? My opinions might be subject to change but the consequences of a federal felony conviction would be permanent.

If it were only my own feelings involved, McCurdy said, the decision would be different.

Another part of McCurdy’s argument was that cooperating with the draft wasn’t as bad as participating in the war itself. Plus, I could apply for conscientious objector status and, if granted, I’d never be asked to join the military anyway.

If I failed to get CO status, and if my student deferment ran out and I actually received an order-to-report, then would be the time when I maybe might have to make a moral decision.

Looking back on it, McCurdy never mentioned, not once, the feelings of the people of Vietnam, or prospects they might have for a successful future. Also, I’d bet money that Mr McCurdy S.J. never applied the same scrutiny to my peers who chose to go over their and do some killing.

Richard McCurdy, S.J. had a kind of beatnik persona. He was a little eccentric and artsy—a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

A few years later I received in the mail a “holy card” announcing now “Father” McCurdy’s ordination. On it he wrote, “Willie, I love you.”

For a moment I thought, Is this sexual?

Of course not. It was simply an expression of the overflowing agape he felt.

Still, it made me feel a little creepy.

I tore it in half and tossed it.

Only recently do I understand that McCurdy was just trying to protect St Ignatius High School’s investment in me. They had provided me an excellent education, and they expected in return that I would become successful and would use the power and influence I might accrue to protect and further the interests of the Jesuits.

Absolutely shameful.

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