I don't normally like to follow a post with yet another post -- especially when I am not responding to a supsequent post. However, it occurred to me
that, technically I am a "Grandpa" and, well, I do have a "war" story.
I was 18 years old and, like all good American 18 year olds, I had registered with the Selective Service (a.k.a. the "draft board"). Suddenly, the
news stories on television held even more importance to me. Though my brother, Vince, was in Viet Nam, serving as an "adviser" in the "brownwater
navy" -- then nearly all ARVN -- the war became more personal when my life seemed to be at stake.
Fortunately, I was entering University and that was a sufficient enough distraction to keep from going entirely bonkers at the prospect of being
drafted. Instead, I immersed myself into the Academic life and was able to view life through a "it won't happen to me" mindset. Of course that
all changed one day in 1972.
I entered the Student Union Building on the campus of Detroit's Wayne State University to grab a coffee when I could not help notice the crowds of
students surrounding the television sets that were placed strategically in the lounge areas of the building. When I asked someone "what was going
on", the answer pulled my head out of the sand and made me face reality.
It was the 1972 Draft Lottery
. The lottery was based upon randomly selecting a birth date (mine, for
instance, was August 17th). The selective service official then pulled a ball out of the barrel with a number on it -- a number from 1 to 365. In my
case, they pulled out the number 008
. "008" was my license to kill. With a number that low, I would surely be drafted!
At that time in the war, there were no college deferments -- unless I was taking something like medicine. I wasn't taking medicine. I felt doomed.
At that time in the war, the only "safe" numbers were numbers higher than 250. That means, simply, that the government would establish quotas of
men that they felt would be needed by the military. Once that quota was filled, then the draft board stopped calling men into the service based upon
the number that their birthday was assigned. Again, my number was "008". I was doomed.
Then, at the end of 1972, President Richard M. Nixon announced that the draft, for all intents and purposes, would be suspended. He felt that no new
troops would be required and that they had sufficient troops to fulfill the mission. At that point, all I could do was breathe a deep sigh of relief.
From then on, Richard M. Nixon became my "favorite president". Of course, he did keep me from having an "actual" war story to relate here but,
to tell you the truth, I really don't mind.
[edit on 4/20/2006 by benevolent tyrant]