In March of 1968 I dutifully signed up with the Selective Service as all 18 year old males had to do at that time. Realizing then that there was potential to end up in the military was sobering enough.
When the draft lottery came around I was a carefree student at the University of Wisconsin in my sophomore year. Initially my thoughts were “it won’t happen to me.” But those of us on the lower end of the grade scale (close to flunking out) started to get a bit more worried. The big night came and we were seated around the TV and drinking beer at the frat house to watch the event. It was part party and part sobered fascination. When the first ball was drawn no one in our audience was picked. A big sigh of relief was let out. We were starting to feel better. The second ball was drawn and John S. was selected. He was a good student but one semester from graduating and had no desire to go into the service. His girlfriend started crying almost immediately as they were planning to get engaged later that year. That’s when the reality of it hit home. I was finally drawn out at No. 139. It was not what I wanted but it did present some options if I could stay in school and keep the deferment. As the evening wore on some drank to drown their sorrows, some drank to their good fortune and some just drank to keep up with the rest. In retrospect it was one of those maturing events that happen in young people’s lives.
Two years later I dropped my deferment and the call out did not get up to my number. I was then in a lower draft category.