How the Vietnam War Draft Sparked the Fight to Lower US Voting Age to 18

In the summer of 1965, support for the conflict in Vietnam eroded, advisers to President Lyndon B. Johnson recommending sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers in at least five years to win the war. Troop accumulation continued to grow, and on July 28, Johnson ordered 125,000 land forces and doubled the number of soldiers enlisted in the army, from 17,000 per month to 35,000.

As more and more young American men were enlisted to fight, a new single, “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire, hit the air and brought home a key point of anger in his opening remarks : why should men be old enough to be drafted in war and not even old enough to vote?

The oriental world explodes
Flarin violence ‘, loadin bullets’
You are old enough to kill but not to vote

Released on July 21, 1965, “Eve of Destruction” entered the Billboard charts at # 103; by September 25, he had reached first place. In Washington, the government was about to cap the number of soldiers at 195,000 – and young Americans were weeks away from burning their temporary cards. The harsh realities of war – and the fear of being drafted – have spurred a campaign to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

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