DEBATING THE DRAFT
On another Sunday afternoon, probably early in l940, I went to see cousins George and Don, a fairly common event. When I arrived, I found them in the midst of a noisy and profoundly intense discussion of fighting wars. The boys had to return the papers for selective service in the military. They had to be mailed in no later than Monday, so today was the day.
Now Don and George had been discussing this subject for quite a while, as all young men did, and had come to the conclusion that the war was necessary, and they were prepared to be drafted if that was the way it all turned out. Uncle Hugh, however, had come to the exactly contrary opinion. He was now ordering the boys to request conscientious objector status.
Many parts of the Bible were being quoted by all concerned. George made a strong case for the “A time for war”, a sentiment expressed in the book of Ecclesiastes. Uncle Hugh swept this quotation aside as being archaic, in the light of the New Testament message. Don supported George’s arguments, although he quoted scripture that did not seem that much illuminating to me, perhaps just to stay in the discussion! Anyway, my presence had zero effect on the debate, which only seemed to wax.
George became more and more adamant. He would not claim conscientious objector status. Don meanwhile seemed to become less certain about things. I was surprised to see him wavering on the necessity to do what I knew he had deemed to be right only a few days before.
Finally, and with the use of that word I am skipping any attempt to give an adequate description of what I was observing, George announced that he was through with the debate. He was returning his papers filled out as he chose. Don, however, seemed to be making it clear that Uncle Hugh’s arguments had won him over, and this obviously pleased his father. So Uncle Hugh seemed to be a bit mollified.
It was then that Don announced that unfortunately, it was too late! He had mailed his papers in the day before!
A few months later, Don enlisted, as I did. We joined the Army together. George was never drafted, being the only son left on the farm.
Here we gain a clue into the working of the minds of Brownlees.