US Draft Protest


On October 15, 1964, David Miller, a Catholic pacifist, publicly burned his draft card at a rally held near the Armed Forces Induction Center on Whitehall Street in Manhattan. He was not the first American to burn his draft card, but he was the first to publicly do it since President Lyndon Johnson had signed into law a bill that criminalized the burning or destroying of the Selective Service cards. There already was a law that stated anyone eligible for selective service had to carry their draft cards with them at all times but this act made it a specific criminal offense.

Miller was a part of the Catholic Workers movement. This movement generally espoused communal living and no government, just a society existing through the teachings of Jesus. At a rally against the war, Miller climbed on top of a sound truck and said that he believed that what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam was immoral and that he wanted to make a political statement. After an abortive attempt with matches he touched a cigarette lighter to his draft card and it went up in smoke.

The Federal Government wasn’t feeling that vibe. If they were going to start a war then everyone had to come. The FBI arrested Miller three days later, on October 18, 1964. He was convicted at trial in 1966, and after an unsuccessful appeal, he served 22 months in federal prison. Despite the harsh sentence, many other people burned their draft cards. In 1968 when Richard Nixon was running for President, he promised to make the military all volunteer. At the beginning of his second term as President, Nixon stopped the draft in 1973. The last man to be drafted entered the US Army on June 30, 1973.

PHOTO By en:User:Lycurgus - My draft card, image taken by me. en:User:LycurgusOriginally uploaded to EN Wikipedia as en:Image:DraftcardRenJuan.jpg by en:User:Lycurgus 18 June 2008, Public Domain,


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