These days everyone is having second thoughts — aboutnVietnam and the 60’s, about American history, aboutnwhat it means to be a liberal and what it means to be anconservative. Rather than be left out of the rewrite, I toonhave been having second thoughts about what I did and didnnot do some 20 years ago. I was on the point of beingndrafted on three separate occasions, and while I should havenrealized that the Army would never take a flat-footed mannwho had had operations on both eyes, I still brooded aboutnthe war and my possible participation.nConventionally leftist, I did not see any reason for ournpresence in Southeast Asia — although I did believe we werenengaged in a global struggle against the Soviet Union, onenwe could not afford to lose. I wrote my congressman, L.nMendel Rivers, to declare my opposition to the war.nMendel, in addition to being chairman of the House ArmednForces Committee, was a sort of friend of my father. (I alsonknew his godson, aide, and successor, Mendel Davis.) Evennso, I did not expect an answer and when it came, it gave mena jolt. The greatest hawk in Washington said he agreed withnme, that if we were not going to fight to win, then it wasnwrong to waste American lives.nOne American life I had no intention of wasting was mynown — not that I was afraid of dying in Southeast Asia.nMendel had promised my father that if I were drafted, Incould have my pick of places to go and suggested ArmynLanguages School and a tour in the Mediterranean. But atn8/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnSecond Thoughtsnby Thomas Flemingnnnthe time it seemed absolutely pointless to interrupt mynstudies and live like an overworked Boy Scout for sixnmonths. I’m sure it would have done me good.nI principally thought about going to Canada, not so muchnto evade the draft but in search of a less bureaucratizedncountry (how litfle I knew about Canada!) that still containednvast stretches of wilderness and preserved a sense ofntraditional community. Some of my ancestors had fled tonthe Maritimes in the 1770’s to evade a war they could notnhonorably take part in (as Scots they had taken the oath notnto fight against the King), and I foolishly saw myself asnfollowing in their footsteps. I fixed on Cape Breton as myn’ destination—surely the loveliest place in North America —nand discussed the project with my father, expressing greatndissatisfaction with life in these United States. He only gavenme one piece of advice. “When you go up there among thenbluenoses,” he warned, “don’t be running down the UnitednStates. Decent men, Scots in particular, have no use for anman who speaks ill of his own country.”nIn the end I did not go to Cape Breton and faced theninduction physical in Raleigh. Of course I flunked it, but Inkept on thinking about what my father had said. Was I guiltynof disloyalty to my country, and didn’t I have to chooseneither to remain here as a loyal citizen or else emigrate? I’mnnot sure that I was ever disloyal, but the answer to thensecond question was undubitably yes, and I gradually begannto develop a strong dislike for the flag-burners, excrement-n