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The national-service solution to inequality in America

To the editor: Author Benjamin Luxenberg makes a good argument for broader involvement in military service. ("If inequality is our problem, military service is the answer," Op-Ed, Jan. 6)

How about pushing the definition further by looking at a universal national service program that helps provide services such as construction, conservation and education right here at home?

America's strength goes beyond military power to our ability to inspire and help in other ways.

Geoff Nelson, Whittier

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To the editor: Luxenberg enumerates the pervasive societal plusses sure to accrue from making military service a more universal American experience.

But his compelling recommendation won't be realized absent some form of military conscription. Our society's upper crust won't abide having their children drafted, not when military service remains effectively outsourced to our lower classes.

All who deem themselves patriotic Americans — including the most privileged — should support institution of compulsory national service applicable to both genders.

Conscription options could range from a year or two of traditional military service to somewhat longer periods for such vital civilian services such as public health and natural conservation.

Every American should be willing to pay this small price to live in a country blessed with incredible freedoms and opportunities.

Kendra Strozyk, Cameron Park, Calif.

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To the editor: As a veteran of the late 1950s and early 60s, I most wholeheartedly agree with Luxenberg that the military defined my adult life.

I remain, thanks to the Internet, in contact with members of my outfit as did an uncle who flew in WW II .

However, lest we forget, Vietnam changed the equation. The issues of that conflict made that generation of military leaders see the need to structure the military from a citizen army into a professional one. The inevitable result is a military caste, and all that goes with it.

David Strauss, Arcadia

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To the editor: As a Korean War Marine, my assimilation of the values and principals spoken of in Luxenberg's column began during my training at Camp Pendleton during a wet winter in early 1952. We witnessed them on a daily basis. To say they have been an influence on my life's perspective would be an understatement.

Their value is truly enhanced however, when old friends will approach me on occasion, and indicate their regret in not having had a military experience. I've always felt I took more from the Marines than I gave.

Harold Hewitt, Salem, Ore.

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