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Did they call my birthday?
April 16, 2014 3:48 AM   Subscribe

Waiting for your lottery number. James, Oklahoma, 1969, No. 365. I arrived at the dorm and went to my friend’s room where 12 of us were watching the lottery. I remember we had cases of beers to help us through. We knew this day could forever change our lives. When I came into the room I could feel the tension and see that the lottery had already started. It wasn't a big show on TV; it was just a series of numbers scrolling across the bottom of the screen while “I Love Lucy” played above.

"The purpose of this site is to collect and share the stories of American men who were subject to the Vietnam war draft lotteries in the years 1969 through 1972. During those years, the Selective Service used a lottery to determine the order in which draft age men would be called up for duty, usually in Vietnam."

Roger Mudd describes the process as it happens behind him.
posted by goofyfoot (69 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I worked a year between high school and college. My mom called me at work that day, nearly hysterical with happiness, and told me that my number was 346.

After that I stopped worrying about it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:57 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


You won't find Dick Cheney's story in there, but a few from guys who joined the National Guard as an insurance policy. Powerful stuff.

Unlike the current wars where the death of one or two soldiers makes the news, Vietnam was a slaughter. My neighbor across the street got killed in his first tour, as did another neighbor a few streets over. I was a bit too young, but it was real.

Even those with college deferments were not immune to "the lottery number."

Every generation has to deal with a unique set of problems, but I question whether students today can understand the stress our generation was under at the time of the Vietnam war. One of my best friends did not maintain his grades in college and lost his student deferment. Four months after arriving in Vietnam, he was sent home in a body bag. Unbelievable penalty for not keeping up your grades. "

As bad as the draft was, it was also fuel to the fire of anti-war protest. A fuel which the government no longer provides to The People - which is of course rather convenient.
posted by three blind mice at 4:41 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


From the link: In basic training, there were only 8 college graduates and I was made acting jack (platoon sergeant), even had my POV at basic. Then went to OJT in MP Records and sent 90% of graduating MP's to Vietnam for the pull out. I received my orders to Berlin Germany. Our POW's came home in February '73 and I went to Berlin in March '73. I ran the Berlin Golf and Country Club pro shop for the next 20 months.

Holy cow.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:42 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Good thing I was born in 1964, because in at least one of the lotteries my number is pretty low.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:50 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


My Dad's asthma kept him out of the draft, but his older brother, a surgeon, told him that he would cut one of my Dad's toes off, if he needed it to get a medical exemption. One of his good friends deserted to Canada and only recently returned to the US.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:52 AM on April 16


This is good stuff; it must be remembered, in my opinion, as a counter to the nationalist narrative that seems to hold that everyone who served in Vietnam wanted to be there and supported the mission, that it was only "libruls and the media" who made "us" lose the war. Thanks for the post, goofyfoot.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:12 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


The lottery terrified me. It ended the year before I was eligible.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:20 AM on April 16


I was a young child when this was happening. I have a very distinct memory about it. My friend had a much older brother--draft age. We were both in the car and his brother was driving. We stopped at an office and my friend asked his older brother what we were doing. He turned to us (we were in the back seat) and flashed some money at us and said something to the effect "I am not going to Vietnam".

I can't imagine what it must have been like for young men, waiting to know if they were heading off to Vietnam. The anxiety must have been horrific. I remember having to register for the draft in the early 1980's when I turned 18--and that rattled me for a few days.

Do 18 year olds still have to register?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:24 AM on April 16


Yes, Seymour Zamboni.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:26 AM on April 16


Do 18 year olds still have to register?

Yes, but it seems like it's seldom enforced. However, it is required when you register to vote or fill out the FAFSA for financial aid.
posted by triceryclops at 5:28 AM on April 16


Do 18 year olds still have to register?

18 year old males do, yes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:28 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


My Dad did a two year stint in the Marines just before the US involvement in Viet Nam so he was exempt. One uncle died there, another went to Canada.

Do 18 year olds still have to register?


"Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male immigrants living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service."

I have a friend who was denied citizenship because he hadn't registered - before he applied for citizenship.
posted by vapidave at 5:32 AM on April 16


The fact that selective service is still in existence astounds me. I was born way too late and in a different country, but checked my birthday on Halloween Jack's list, it was on the low side on the middle and that was enough to make me gulp.
posted by arcticseal at 5:44 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


...but checked my birthday on Halloween Jack's list, it was on the low side on the middle and that was enough to make me gulp.

I just checked and holy cats, me too.
posted by jquinby at 5:48 AM on April 16


Spent a year sweating my number of 219 before the draft ended. My younger (by one year) brother's birthday came up number 1 in the next lottery and he was classified 1A even though the draft was "officially" over.
posted by Standeck at 5:54 AM on April 16


I hadn't realized it was announced like this. Its eerily hunger-game like.
posted by cacofonie at 5:57 AM on April 16 [18 favorites]


I remember at the time of the first lottery my birthday having a very very low number. I just checked to make sure I was remembering right: yes, number 4.

I remember at the time, possibly for the first time ever in my life, being thankful I was a woman.

I wondered a lot about the poor guys who were born the same day and year as I was.
posted by mareli at 6:00 AM on April 16


In June 1966, I transferred to the University of Georgia, and the rest is history. Obviously, the draft was unfair with too many exclusions. I had friends that got married or had children to avoid it. One went to Canada. Two friends died in Vietnam. I felt guilty later for not going, but I gave 32 years to the Federal Government as an investigator/auditor.

Giving for your country and service take many forms that are so much better for the nation specifically and for the species generally than service in war.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:00 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


The thing is, the thing that was so rotten about Vietnam wasn't that there was a draft or even that there was a draft lottery. It was that it was so easy for the sons of the rich and powerful to get out of the draft, regardless of what their draft numbers were. You could argue that a fairly-applied draft is a better way to fight a war than having an all-volunteer army, because whether there's a volunteer army or a rigged draft, the Bushes and Romneys of the world aren't going to be the ones dying. (And of course a fair draft would include women, but that certainly wasn't going to happen in the late 60s and early 70s, and I think it would be a hard sell to some voters and politicians even now.)

My oldest brother was born in 1971, and he has a congenital heart condition. For my entire childhood, my parents referred to his heart problem as "the draft insurance," as in "your brother has an appointment with the cardiologist next week to check up on his draft insurance." I remember being a little scared that my younger brother didn't have any draft insurance.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:05 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


My father joined the Air Force in 66 to avoid getting drafted into the Army when he dropped out of college. That is how I grew up an Air Force brat, which really was a pretty cool way to spend my first 18 years. Technically, he got out when I was 14, but he worked with the ground launched cruise missile so even as a civilian we lived on remote military bases for my high school years.
posted by COD at 6:24 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I remember watching the first draft lottery on TV. My older brother's birthday came up as #3, and I was terrified. I remember when he had to go in for his physical, and he came home 4-F on psychological grounds. He would never say exactly what happened, but he said if this had been a few years later, with a more experienced draft board, he never would have gotten away with it. Fortunately, my other brother had blown out his knees playing high school football, plus when his number was drawn the next year is was 350-something.
posted by pbrim at 6:27 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Very slightly too young for this to have affected me directly....but in the late 70s we saw the short film of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" in school, and most people could make the connection.
posted by gimonca at 6:39 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


My uncle just finished reading Tim O'Brien's "The Things they carried," the other week, and mentioned to me that his number, at age 18 in 1971, was 358. He remembers some of his older brother's friends coming back and saying, "Don't go."
posted by goofyfoot at 6:51 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


My father-in-law was drafted, and I love his story.

He went to Oklahoma for training. The army designated that he would be trained on artillery. My father-in-law is a very peaceful and kind guy - this definitely was not a good assignment.

When he got there, he noticed that his pay grade was off - it should have been higher because of mandatory ROTC training he received - and when he went to Accounting to correct the issue, they noticed he had a finance degree and asked him if he would be willing to work in the accounting / finance office. Which he immediately accepted. The squad he was supposed to train with was shipped out and he doesn't know what happened to them, but it can be assumed that it wasn't good.

He was eventually transferred to Germany where he was again assigned to Accounting. He finished out his service in Europe, with supposed training in artillery. He's a lucky guy, and a great guy.
posted by glaucon at 7:04 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


You could argue that a fairly-applied draft is a better way to fight a war than having an all-volunteer army, because whether there's a volunteer army or a rigged draft, the Bushes and Romneys of the world aren't going to be the ones dying.

Prescott Bush was a reasonably big deal by 1941 and George the Elder did good service driving an Avenger. And of course the much bigger deal Kennedys saw all of their sons in the Navy during WW2 (though RFK ended the war still in training).

Elite avoidance of war was way more common for Vietnam than WW2, which is one way you can tell that even elites knew Vietnam was an especially shitty war.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:06 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


The Vietnam-era draft was set up to protect the fortunate sons, but if run fairly, a draft is better for the country than the all-voluntary services we have now. It's too easy to "other" the military - in a positive way, but still in a way that disconnects the rest of us from service. And as mentioned above, it tamps down protest.

Even for peacetime purposes, a national service program of the type John Kerry proposed in 2004 would be a huge positive. I wonder if a serious politician ever again will propose such a thing.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:07 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


> Good thing I was born in 1964, because in at least one of the lotteries my number is pretty low

Looks like my birthday was #1 for that lottery. That's totally irrelevant, as I'm female and too young, but it gave me a chill anyway.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:10 AM on April 16


And of course the much bigger deal Kennedys saw all of their sons in the Navy during WW2

Only Joe and Jack served, with the former killed and the JFK seriously injured. They also had a son-in-law killed. For somebody who questioned whether international involvement was worth the life of a child, Joe Kennedy and his family certainly paid a high price. And of course, peacetime cost them even more.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:13 AM on April 16


I didn't even watch the drawing... I was busy with homework. The next morning, after the first lottery, I was in the student union, reading the paper, and discovered that my number was 22. There are few numbers I remember, but I remember that one.....
posted by HuronBob at 7:25 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


My dad tells the story that he was drafted and appealed. By the time his case came up about a month later, he was too old to serve.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:42 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Wow, the RNG hates my birthday. Five out of seven drafts, I woulda ended up going, if I hadn't been twenty years too young.
posted by Etrigan at 7:52 AM on April 16


My lottery number was 1-A. E-5, Honorable Discharge.
posted by Repack Rider at 8:03 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


I had a great number that year, but I think I was still 2-S. I think I was only worried about 2 years when I was 1-A. Tables for all years here.
(Halloween Jack's link blocked for me at work)
posted by MtDewd at 8:16 AM on April 16


A bunch of guys in my dorm put money into a pot (probably a buck each—I was going to say five, but five dollars was a chunk of money back then), with the pot going to whoever had the lowest draft number. We got together (with beer, of course) to watch the draw, and I remember vividly that the guy whose birthday was called first shouted "I won!" and grabbed the money. I have no idea to this day whether it was bravado or whether the reality just hadn't sunk in yet. Waiting for those dates to be drawn was terrifying.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Repack Rider: Thanks for serving, but holy crap dude. The honorable discharge photo is about the least interesting thing on your website!
posted by COD at 8:32 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


I like how the draft is set up now where poor people have shitty schools, no job opportunities and a hitch in the military is the only way out.
posted by Renoroc at 8:36 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


Only Joe and Jack served

RFK had enlisted, but was still in pseudo-ROTC training when the war ended. I'm willing to count that since he couldn't have known the war would end in 1945 when he signed up.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:42 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


My dad's always been pretty self-deprecating about his time over there, not having seen much combat as he was doing communications work mostly. He's just so lighthearted about the whole thing, it's easy to forget how genuinely traumatizing it must have been, no matter where you were posted. Christ, he was just a kid too.
posted by Think_Long at 8:45 AM on April 16


With Selective Service today, it's just a check box on the drivers license application. You can't get your license without registering, so it's just sort of buried in the drivers license application in my state. I'm not sure if my 20 year old son even realizes he is registered.

On one hand, it's more efficient, but it being sort of buried like that also keeps it out of sight / out of mind. I turned 18 at college and when I came home for Christmas my dad took me to register, I think at the post office. It wasn't a big deal, but it was a separate thing. Hell, I can still remember the lame joke the postal clerk made 28 years ago. "We'll call you if we need you."

Keeping it out in the open like that would spur a lot more conversation about it, which is why it's buried in the drivers license process now.
posted by COD at 8:48 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Keeping it out in the open like that would spur a lot more conversation about it, which is why it's buried in the drivers license process now.

It was out in the open like that for an entire generation and spurred somewhere in the neighborhood of zero conversations. The only nefarious reason for burying it in the drivers licence process was to cut down on the number of people employed by the government inputting data from the forms into the SSS computers.
posted by Etrigan at 8:55 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


They used to mail you a postcard when you turned 18, too.

This reminds me of my preschool teacher, one of those old fashioned fire-breathing liberal lutherans, who kept birthday lists of all of her male students. Approaching their 18th birthdays, if they still lived in the neighborhood, she would come to their door with a whole stack of conscientious objector brochures. Giving us one last lesson, I suppose.
posted by Think_Long at 9:02 AM on April 16 [25 favorites]


It was out in the open like that for an entire generation and spurred somewhere in the neighborhood of zero conversations

Do you really think so? So many sons of Vietnam vets must have talked at least a little with their fathers regarding their experiences in the draft. I did.
posted by exogenous at 9:06 AM on April 16


It was out in the open like that for an entire generation and spurred somewhere in the neighborhood of zero conversations

Do you really think so? So many sons of Vietnam vets must have talked at least a little with their fathers regarding their experiences in the draft. I did.


I meant "conversations" in the sense of "conversations that engendered social and/or political change," which I think COD was claiming was the reason for "burying" the signup. I don't think that the shift to the checkbox was an intentional plot to keep 18-year-old boys from asking their dads about the draft for fear that they'd rise up and demand an end to the military-industrial complex.
posted by Etrigan at 9:16 AM on April 16


Although I feel that those called to serve in military manoeuvres should be honoured and remunerated handsomely because holy shit, what a thing to have to do, the calling of people to manifest political bullshit should only ever be on a voluntary basis. This lottery was horrific (it happened in Australia too, known here as the Birthday Ballot) and it dragged in people to be used as pawns in an ugly and ultimately unnecessary game of diplomacy gone wrong.

May it never, ever happen again.
posted by h00py at 9:28 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


// I don't think that the shift to the checkbox was an intentional plot to keep 18-year-old boys from asking their dads about the draft for fear that they'd rise up and demand an end to the military-industrial complex.//

The effort to tie selective service registration to drivers licenses and government benefits such as student loans was very much an effort to encourage (or coerce, depending on your POV) registration. Once you are doing that, making the process as frictionless as possible not only makes registration more likely, it does in fact keep it out of the public conversation. Change is hard, we might not overthrow selective service next week if they went back to single purpose registrations, but the lives of people that support selective service are undoubtedly easier without whatever friction might arise by having selective service sort in our faces like that.
posted by COD at 9:40 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


During the Vietnam War, on your 18th birthday, the assistant principal would pull you out of class and have you sign up for the draft on the spot. Happy Birthday!
posted by JackFlash at 9:48 AM on April 16


When he got there, he noticed that his pay grade was off - it should have been higher because of mandatory ROTC training he received - and when he went to Accounting to correct the issue, they noticed he had a finance degree and asked him if he would be willing to work in the accounting / finance office. Which he immediately accepted. The squad he was supposed to train with was shipped out and he doesn't know what happened to them, but it can be assumed that it wasn't good.

My uncle was drafted and sent by the Army to welding school. While he was there he volunteered to work in the office because they needed someone who could type. He got involved in working on their computer system and when the rest of the newly graduated welders got sent to Korea to weld together landing craft he stayed at the welding school working in the office for the rest of his term.
posted by Jahaza at 9:52 AM on April 16


Did things like this really happen at draft centers?
posted by peeedro at 9:57 AM on April 16


Well, it happened to him, apparently. It was a stupid, pointless war and those on the frontline were obvious targets on both sides of the fence. Shame the politicians responsible never felt the brunt of it.
posted by h00py at 10:02 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


My story is personal and painful and at this time not ready for prime time. I do have the experience/story of a friend who before undergoing the draft physical filled his butt crack with peanut butter and at the optimum moment in front of the physician, stuck his hand in his underwear (you marched in a line in your underwear to various stations) and pulled out a big gob of brown stuff and ate it. The reward: 4F.
posted by Xurando at 10:05 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


The effort to tie selective service registration to drivers licenses and government benefits such as student loans was very much an effort to encourage (or coerce, depending on your POV) registration.

Now you're adding in a different thing -- tying Selective Service registration to government benefits is a different kettle of fish from making registration less visible.

Once you are doing that, making the process as frictionless as possible not only makes registration more likely, it does in fact keep it out of the public conversation.

Which is a thing that they didn't bother doing until technology made it easier to share that data with the federal government, not because they feared the draft being in the public conversation.

Oh, and one thing I just noticed from your first comment:
You can't get your license without registering, so it's just sort of buried in the drivers license application in my state.

I think you might be confused about this. The Selective Service System website doesn't mention this, and you can't register for Selective Service until you're 17 and 3 months, which is 3 months later than any state allows people to get driver's licenses (New Jersey is the only state that waits that long -- it's 16 or earlier in 39 states and 16-1/2 or less in the remaining 10).

There is a checkbox on the FAFSA, but given that men have to be registered to qualify for federal student aid, this is pretty clearly less about "keep[ing] it out of the public conversation" than it is about making sure that people are registered and therefore eligible.
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on April 16


Having #36 helped me onto the path of draft resistance, and taking some classes to become a draft counselor.

For two years or so, I volunteered weekly at the Phineas Book and Record Store on Anaheim St. in Long Beach. A pretty sketchy neighborhood, at the time.

We were told that only 4% of people who refused inductions ended up in prison. The path for this was, if a CO claim was denied, to go through all of the steps, including pre-induction physical, and then, at the induction, refuse to step forward. I was living at home for a lot of this, so there was great stress on my family, who wanted me to sign up to be a medic. The fact that my dad died during all of this made it really hard to deal with the estrangement.

At my pre-induction physical, I was seated at the end of a long bench. My hearing (I would flunk that test later that morning) sucked even then, and this huge-looking guy was barking orders at all of us in our underwear and paper slippers. I did not hear the order to stand, and so when everyone else did, I tipped the bench over lengthwise, as I fell to the floor. The guy in charge indicated that it may not go well for me if I continue to screw around.

So then I flunked the hearing test. They took me aside, and placed me by an open window, for long stretches, in my underwear. I flunked twice more, then they took me into a specialist. He was behind me, and whispered, "what was your name again?" I sort of heard him, but paused, and said, "did you say something?"

I was stamped 1Y which was like 4F but in case of desperate need, could have been called up.
posted by Danf at 10:19 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of state laws which tie driver's licenses, state employment, etc. to Selective Service registration. Full list here.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:37 AM on April 16


(This is one of the reasons we live in Oregon, one of the few states which do not punish men for not being registered, as my husband did not find out he was not registered until he was 26 and too old to register.)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:44 AM on April 16


There are a lot of state laws which tie driver's licenses, state employment, etc. to Selective Service registration.

For people over 18, yes. But the many, many, many male American persons who get driver's licenses at the age of 16 cannot register, while COD asserted that "You can't get your license without registering..." and tied it to a plot to remove Selective Service from the public consciousness.
posted by Etrigan at 10:46 AM on April 16


> For two years or so, I volunteered weekly at the Phineas Book and Record Store on Anaheim St. in Long Beach.

Hey, I was registered in Long Beach! I was sure the draft board there (reputed to be one of the most troglodyte in the state) would deny my CO application (full of Tolstoy quotes and impassioned rhetoric), but they approved it. I still remember my shocked pleasure when I opened the envelope (at my PO box at Occidental).
posted by languagehat at 11:03 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: "For people over 18, yes. But the many, many, many male American persons who get driver's licenses at the age of 16 cannot register, while COD asserted that "You can't get your license without registering..." and tied it to a plot to remove Selective Service from the public consciousness."

Come license renewal time they will be registered or they won't keep it, in many states. The state I grew up in repeatedly tightened the noose from the mid 80s on to maybe 10 years ago. I was going to tell them in no uncertain terms to go fuck themselves, so my sister sent in my info for me so that I wouldn't be ineligible for basically everything that involved state money in the state I lived in at the time, and that was before they tied the driver's license to SSS registration.

What can I say, I was a hard headed kid even though it seemed like the chance of a draft was somewhere possibly below zero by that point. At this point it's basically a bunch of Vietnam War resentment driving the ever-increasing penalties for not registering, despite the fact that everyone has been in agreement that there will be no draft for anybody since, well, I was born.

What other excuse was there in 2002 for doing that shit (or 1982, for that matter, when federal student loan eligibility was tied to SSS registration) when such penalties didn't exist when we were actually sending people off to die against their will?
posted by wierdo at 11:05 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I had a couple of guys come back in to thank me for guiding them through the CO process. It was very satisfying.
posted by Danf at 11:06 AM on April 16


My father actually volunteered for Vietnam - not because he was for the war, but because he had no direction in his life, and it was really early on in the conflict. He got rejected do to flat feet, and that exempted him from ever being drafted.

My stepfather didn't want to be drafted into the Army, which he thought was inevitable, so he volunteered for the Air Force instead. He got stationed in Thailand, where he was a clerk.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:24 AM on April 16


Holy crap, my birthday (9/14) was 001. I never knew that.

Having been born over a decade later (and being female) I've never had to think much about it, but hearing that date announced gave me chills.
posted by janerica at 12:11 PM on April 16


> Holy crap, my birthday (9/14) was 001

We're twinsies!
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:27 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


My father volunteered for the Air Force, and scored highly on the various aptitude tests the recruits were given. After being offered several "choice" assignments that all seemed likely to end in southeast Asia, which he declined, he became an air traffic controller. When he separated from the service he went to work for the FAA as a civilian controller, and he really loved his job. Then Reagan came along. Oh, well, it was good while it lasted.

He joined the Air Force because he had a low draft number, and his father was an Army special forces lifer who was sent to Vietnam early in the US's involvement. My father ignored most of the advice my grandfather gave him, but he had the good sense to listen when he was told, "You don't want to go over there." I'm pretty grateful for that, really, because if he hadn't listened I might not be here.
posted by wintermind at 1:42 PM on April 16


They used to mail you a postcard when you turned 18, too.

Yep. They sent mine a week before my 18th birthday. It was a bit spooky, what with the official seals and all, but it didn't bother me too much by then.

A year earlier, the first Gulf War started and I was a few months short of 17. My imagination ran pretty wild in August 1990 and I had made up my mind that if push came to shove and the war was prolonged and escalated to the point where I could be selected I figured to make it my choice and try for the Air Force.
posted by linux at 1:45 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I was sure the draft board there (reputed to be one of the most troglodyte in the state) would deny my CO application (full of Tolstoy quotes and impassioned rhetoric), but they approved it.

You should scare a scan of that. I'm sure it would be cringe-inducing for you, but I would find it pretty interesting.

Actually, a book of collected CO application statements would be a neat project.
posted by Think_Long at 1:45 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


My brother was a troublesome kid, taking five years to graduate high school due to playing a lot of hooky and general juvenile delinquency. He didn't otherwise ever face the consequences of his actions because my dad's influence and his own charisma got him out of all sorts of trouble.

Of course we didn't want him to go to Vietnam and get killed, but he didn't seem very nervous about the prospect. It was just one more risky thing that he did not take seriously. If ever there were a young man that the military might have knocked some sense of discipline into, it was him.

My brother's lottery year was 1972. His birthdate was August 13, 1952. It was number 365. So he stayed here and got into more trouble, and drugs, and crime, and prison, and never really grew up, and he died at the age of 41 anyway.
posted by caryatid at 2:11 PM on April 16


My Dad's birthday was #2. My FIL's birthday was #1. My kids are lucky to be around.
posted by bq at 2:19 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Repack Rider: Thanks for serving, but holy crap dude. The honorable discharge photo is about the least interesting thing on your website!

Agreed, it's no more exciting than a HS diploma. But it's the only thing on my site that pertains to this discussion.
posted by Repack Rider at 2:45 PM on April 16


My dad was one of those who joined the National Guard to avoid the draft. He'll happily tell you the story of how he joined, played poker in New Jersey for a few years, and then got out. He'll even tell you how he got lucky a few years later when the President opted to start the draft rather than call up the Guard.

I don't think I ever truly realized how serious the draft was because he treats it so lightly when he talks about it (I'm not sure if he feels guilty or lucky or what--it's not like my dad to talk about that sort of thing). My dad was too old for the draft but he sure wasn't too old to have been called back into service with the Guard if that had been the route taken. It's not a particularly pleasant what if and I can't even imagine living through it. The Hunger Games indeed.
posted by librarylis at 7:56 PM on April 16


I was drafted in January 1971. Several of my friends and I had a lottery viewing party during the 1970 lottery telecast. My number came up eleven. I was 18 years old and scared to death. Figured I was Johnny off to war. I went through basic training at Ft. Ord, California. 160 guys in our basic training company and only 2 of us were not assigned to the infantry. With a lot of luck and the ability to score well on aptitude tests, I became a clerk. Several of my fellow basic trainees didn't make it home alive.
posted by GuitarB1 at 2:10 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


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