I was a senior at NC State University and very ready to get out of there. The Vietnam War made for very tense times and soldiers were getting killed. Every night on the news there was film footage of battles and the number of dead for the day. I had no use for the military or being shot. I was more interested in fraternity parties, graduating college, getting a job, making some money, and continuing to have fun. It was the best of times and the worst of times. The night of the lottery I was sitting in the fraternity house looking at the drawing with most of the other brothers. My number was pulled at 47. My heart sank. I had the potential of a draft-deferred job with a large utility company as an engineer, but those types of deferments were being considered for discontinuance.
I didn’t sleep very well that night. I called my father the next day and asked if he would go by the National Guard Armory and put my name on the long waiting list. Two weeks later I got a call to come in and join up. I was surprised that I got in so soon. After the lottery, many people who had higher numbers dropped off the list and those of us with lower numbers moved up quickly. I joined the Guard in 1970 and went to basic training on July 4 that year. The training wasn’t too bad, but I was glad to get home. The Guard weekend meetings were a waste of time and always interfering with my life, but the six years went by in a flash. I am known as one of the "draft dodgers."
As I have gotten older, I have very much respect for veterans who served in all wars and tell them that when possible. Most Vietnam veterans I greet by saying, "Welcome home." They know by those words that I have some idea of what they went through.
The freedom of the United States exists due to the men and women who have fought for our country. The freedom we enjoy as American citizens can be attributed to nothing else.