I graduated from NC State University in 1970. Some time during my undergraduate years (1966 – 1970) I had receieved my II-S classification which allowed me a student deferment. Shortly after graduating in May of 1970 I received my I-A classification along with instructions to report for my pre-induction physical exam. This ratcheted up the anxiety level because I was supposed to get married on August 8 of that year. I took and passed my physical and began to wonder what the lottery might have in store for me. Even though the NC State campus was primarily a conservative one and experienced very few of the protests against the war that embroiled other colleges and universities, I was very much opposed to the war. I had visited all the surrounding National Guard units but they were all full. I was seriously considering my Canada options.
On the Thursday before my Saturday, August 8 wedding, I received my lottery number in the mail. It was 195. This was on the borderline. I remember hearing or reading that the national lottery limit could go as deep as 200. However, each local board had a quota to fill and it was possible that the cutoff in Charlotte could be lower (or higher). As it turned out, Charlotte had projected that it would fill its quota at around 150. It was later announced that the limit would be less than my 195. I don’t remember what that number actually turned out to be.
I guess the lottery was as fair a way as any to determine your draft status. It allowed me to get on with my life. The Vietnam war was a horrible mistake that took many American lives but also many more Vietnamese lives. I felt very fortunate that I wasn’t drafted and I still don’t know what I would have done if I had been. The people who weren’t as lucky as I was served bravely and many never returned. Their lives were changed by this tragic misadventure of ours but in many ways so was mine. The mistrust in our political leaders because of Vietnam is seared into my memory and it made our invasion of Iraq terribly painful because it was a repudiation of the lessons that should have been learned.[Ed. note: The 1970 lottery was held on July 1, 1970. The highest number called from that drawing was 125].