The Donald, The Draft, and My Great-Granddaddy

By, Susan Kuebler

My great-grandfather and Donald Trump have something very much in common. They both did everything they could to avoid military service. But for entirely different reasons.

My great-grandfather was not born to wealth and privilege like Donald Trump. He was a hard-working farmer, with a wife and two children. They moved to Georgia from Maryland for a better life. I don’t believe it was a big farm. In fact, it had to be fairly small with only one man working it.

I know few details about his life and only learned those after I was grown. Most likely because my relatives were a bit ashamed to have a draft dodger in the family. Even if he had excellent reasons for it. Not medical reasons, like bone spurs. I seriously doubt he was a pacifist either. I’m sure he could fight with the best of them. His reasons were personal and pragmatic. If he went off to war, who would run the farm and take care of his family? Plus he said he didn’t have no dog in this fight.

When war broke out, the year was 1860. I don’t know when the conscriptors first came looking for him. I do know they came several times. But he was usually prepared for them. He hid in the nearby woods during the day, and worked his farm by night. Every day, every night, for four long weary years. An aunt told me they almost caught him once. As a child she had seen his hat with the bullet hole in it.

He didn’t have the luxury of four college deferments in those days. Bone spurs? He didn’t even get a break because he had a family to support. I think it took far more courage to do what he did than if he had gone off to fight in a war he didn’t believe in. Doing the right thing generally does. I also know they had to move to another state after the war and start over again. Am I proud of him? Damn right I’m proud. He chose the hard path, not the easy one. Something Donald Trump cannot comprehend.

I still live in the South. I’m proud to be Southern. But when I see those pickup trucks waving Confederate flags, or people talking about “their” Southern heritage, I just want to smack ’em. They never faced the harsh realities that my great-granddaddy did, and neither has Trump.

Now for those of you who are trying to do the math on how I could be talking about my daddy’s grandfather, let me explain. Dad was the youngest of five children and his mother was the youngest of 13. Her name, by the way, was Alabama, after the state where they moved following “The War of Northern Aggression.”

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