My hometown is Lynchburg, VA; but, I was born in Athens, GA while my father was at the University of Georgia. So, after high school, I returned to UGA and was graduated on June 7, 1969. On that same day, I also was commissioned a 2LT in the Army Signal Corps.
On the day of the 1969 draft lottery, I was at Ft. Monmouth, NJ in a radio systems course–having previously been to Ft. Benning, GA for airborne training and Ft. Gordon, GA for Signal Officer Basic.
I remember returning from class and watching the draft lottery on a NY television station. Because I was in, I remember hoping that June 24, my birthday, would be picked number one. It didn’t come up until #363.
For some reason I began thinking of how long Viet Nam already had been some part of my life. In the late 1950s and early 60s, my uncle Jay, who was an Army officer, went to Viet Nam. I had to look on a map to see where it was. Later, during my four years at UGA, everyone knew the country and the ROTC building was a focal point of opinion–it was the target of fires several times. Of course, each summer, when I went home from school I would go to the local draft board to get my draft status reclassified from 1A to 2S. And, the last page of the 1969 Pandora, our yearbook, was a draft notice.
I then remember wondering how much longer the Viet Nam era would last. Although my brother is four years younger, I looked at the lottery to see where his birthday, March 24, fell. It was in the 260s.
The day of the 1969 lottery was one of mixed feelings. My attention returned to my number–363. I knew, of course, that I never would have ben drafted. Nevertheless, I felt that I was doing what was right for me–what I was supposed to be doing. But, I thought of friends, many of whom opposed the war, and wondered what their numbers were and what they were doing about it.
The year 1969 capped what had been a tumultuous several years. Draft lottery day seemed a microcosm of all the tumult. It was a seminal day for so many of us.