soldierIt wasn't as a woman that I reacted to the news that women can now serve in front-line combat jobs. It was as the mother of a daughter. Because I could sense what was coming next: a debate over whether or not American women will have to register for the draft.

As it stands, we do not. The announcement last week from Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, lifting the restrictions on women in the military, does not change the methods followed by the Selective Service. But that hasn't stopped people from calling for the change.

After all, if the draft can call our sons to arms, why not our daughters? If one sexist wall has been broken down, why not the next?

Valid questions, both of them. The value one mother puts on the life of her child cannot outweigh the value of another. Human life equals human life. Which is why my questions are different.

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If not my daughter, why your sons? Why should we talk of expanding the draft instead of abandoning it entirely?

A few days ago we were talking about allowing women who want to serve more abilities to do so. Suddenly we're talking about finding a way to force them to serve. But why? Why, in 2013, in the United States of America, would we want to force anyone to serve?

Aren't we, after all, a nation that prides itself on freedom?

I ask these questions not just as the mother of a daughter but as the daughter and granddaughter both of men who served in our United States Navy during wartime. My father was not drafted during Vietnam. Instead, he signed up.

Uncle Sam did not need the draft to call him to serve. He did not need the draft to draw a number of my cousins who are currently serving. He did need the draft to bring the estimated 1.8 million female veterans of the American military or the estimated 214,098 American women currently serving in our armed forces.

In fact, it should be noted that women haven't demanded they be drafted in order to serve our country on the front lines. The fight has been much more direct. Women asked, asked, and asked some more, to be allowed to serve on the front lines in combat.

If there's any better sign of the irrelevance of the draft, I can't think of one. Here you have a sector of the population that could avoid completely even the faintest risk of being put in harm's way, and they've actively lobbied to be there. Pride in America, pride in serving in our military is alive and well and does not need to be forced upon our citizenry.

For some, military service is, quite simply, a calling. And for them, this mother, this granddaughter, this daughter, is thankful. I value those who have served, who serve, who will serve for what they have given me even as I fear the very idea of my daughter ever being forced into that life (should it not be her choice).

I value the freedom they protect ... freely.

Do you think women should be required to register for the draft?

 

Image via The U.S. Army/Flickr