Ali's personal pursuit of fair treatment under the law began about two years before mine. With the Vietnam War raging and young men subject to a mandatory military draft, Ali and I both sought official designation as conscientious objectors to war and killing.
This week, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives quashed a proposed measure that would have required American women between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for the draft, even though both the House and Senate Armed Services committees' endorsed the idea.
America's one-party system on foreign policy and war comes with consequences. Don't discount the reality of a military draft with either Trump or Clinton, especially with low Army recruiting numbers. Only Bernie Sanders opposes perpetual quagmires in the name of defeating terror.
I do not believe in war, but neither do I believe we are done with it. What I know for certain is that no future conflict should be started by leaders who do not have the courage to be honest about why it is necessary and to engage the entire nation in the effort.
When we found out expectation paired with effort wasn't the end all, we added new needs to the equation of success. These needs became creativity, the ability to see beyond expectation and hard work, and the need to change the landscape of what we want success to be.
Just cutting the defense budget and rebalancing to the Reserves will go only so far to make us stronger, more secure, and most of all freer. Institutionalizing national service and sacrifice will help restore enduring national strengths.
If our celebrities who profit the most from America are unwilling to defend it the way Stewart and Williams did, perhaps that's not just a sign of societal rot. Perhaps it's a sign that our wars are simply not vital to us. And if that's the case, shouldn't we end them?
I'm not saying the draft should be reinstated, but I am saying that we need to do something differently. Perhaps if everyone had an equal stake, we wouldn't just change the channel when the news wasn't good.
Would this be an enormous undertaking? Certainly. But the country badly needs some nation-building at home and, aside from its goal of having us share the burden of military service, this could make a significant contribution to that process.
The American sons and daughters who Romney would send to Iran almost surely would not include any of his five strapping lads. Nor, if the past decade serves as an indicator, would the American forces in Iran include many of the children of our nation's political leaders.