All American Boys: Draft Dodgers in Canada from the Vietnam War

All American Boys: Draft Dodgers in Canada from the Vietnam War

All American Boys: Draft Dodgers in Canada from the Vietnam War

All American Boys: Draft Dodgers in Canada from the Vietnam War

Synopsis

Looks at the experiences of American draft dodgers in Canada during the Vietnam War, arguing that many of these young men were motivated not only by their opposition to the war but also by their sense of alienation from American society as a whole.

Excerpt

Patriotism and individualism are difficult terms to rectify. Where does loyalty to the state end and loyalty to one's self begin? Few of us ever have to examine these ideas during our lives; they are often the esoteric motifs left to historians, philosophers, and political scientists to ponder. For thousands of young American men who evaded the draft and went to Canada in the 1960s, however, these were not abstract arguments, but decisions that affected the balance of their lives. Their actions as draft dodgers raise some fundamental questions about loyalty and duty. The idea that these men could turn their back on their country and still embody the essence of Americanism may seem implausible. However, one's condemnation of the nation and one's embrace of the founding principles of that nation need not be mutually exclusive. A central question arises when looking at this issue: Is America a nation or a collection of ideals, unbound by borders? Indeed, arguments such as these run through the history of American thought.

Today, there is little agreement on what the various conflicts of the Sixties really meant, or achieved. Decades after the last shot was fired in Southeast Asia, debate about the war continues. Vietnam grips the imagination. Captured in film, words, and memory, the images have endured time. While the decade's politics, music, fashion, drug use, alternative lifestyles, sexual revolution and women's movement continue to reverberate in public life, it is the war that echoes loudest. Vietnam, and America's reaction to it, more than any single event, represented a break in America's Cold War consensus and created a rift between generations. People disagreed then, and they disagree now. Simplifications about the decade, the events of the war, and the war at home are not easy to make. Nevertheless . . .

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