I was a junior at the University of North Carolina when the first lottery came along. I was opposed to the war and I was worried about what would happen when I graduated. The war was getting bigger and more people were being drafted. I had been in school mainly to stay out of the draft and because I could not think of anything else to do.
I was living at the Delta Upsilon house along with about 30 other guys. I had to work the night of the lottery at the Record Bar and they started calling the birthdays and numbers before I got back home. When I walked into the living room the TV was on and 20 guys were intently watching the numbers being drawn. They were already up to about 130. THe beer was flowing freely and I started drinking too. I watched as the numbers went by without my birthday being called. Because I had missed the first 130 birthdays I had no idea whether I was in that group. By the time the number got to 350 I could see that things did not look good for me. Then I heard them called "Number 357-May 26". That was my birthday. I was very relieved, happy and a little drunk by now. I immediately called my parents. I was very excited and yelling into the phone " They’ll never get me now". My parents were also very relieved. My mother told my brothers that she had never heard me sound so happy.
My mother years later says she was prepared to send me to Canada rather than let me actually go to Viet Nam. She never said that at the time and I never knew she had been thinking that way.
My other fraternity brothers were pretty lucky. One guy got number 1 in the lottery. Fortunately he spent his tour in Petersburg VA. My best friend was number 2 but he got out on a 4-F because of a bad leg. Many of my fraternity brothers were in Naval ROTC at UNC. The all served their required tours as junior naval officers and got out without physical injury. I am going to a reunion with some of these guys in May 2008. I am sure the war will come up since it was such a presence in our college life.
I think that if the draft were still in effect the current war probably would not have happened. It certainly would not have lasted this long.