Culminating in the funeral activities, it has been a week long celebration and mourning of the life and death of Cassius Clay, AKA Muhammed Ali. Clay, an Olympic champion boxer turned pro, refused to answer the call of his country. His refusal to do his duty for his country, resulted in his imprisonment and the loss of his boxing title.
To his credit, Clay didn't run off to Canada. He did indeed stand up for his then, recently acquired principles, those espoused by the Nation of Islam, a radical offshoot of the political theocracy masquerading as a religion. He served his time and eventually resumed his heavyweight boxing career. He became the "Heavyweight Champion of the World," holding the title for several years.
After his boxing career began to falter and his health declined due to Parkinson's disease, Clay involved himself in charity work. By all accounts, he appears to have been very helpful in several efforts.
My purpose here, is not to excoriate Mr Clay. I was brought up to not speak ill of the dead, for they cannot defend themselves--and as I mentioned earlier, he served his time and paid his debt to society. My purpose here is to ask a few (unanswerable) questions and thereby change the focus of this discussion:
--Who had to replace Mr Clay in the draftee pipeline?
--Did that particular young man have to go to Vietnam?
--If so, did he come home alive and in one piece?
--If the best case did happen and a young man was called to duty against his will, but remained in a non-combat area, leaving the military when his tour was up; where does that young man go to regain those two years taken from his life because of the actions of Cassius Clay?
Bottom line--Where is the celebration of the life of that unknown young man who did his duty when called upon, when Clay wouldn't?
Mike Ford is a retired Infantry Colonel and sometime contributor to various publications.