My memory is clear regarding that day in 1969. We were all huddled on the front porch of our fraternity house in Athens, Georgia with our radio tuned to 960 AM, WRFC. Our friend, Don Cox, was on the air as the wire services were releasing the birth dates as they were being drawn. I’ll never forget how my heart sank when the first date announced was June 8th (my birthday is June 10th!). I sat feeling great relief that they missed me by 2 days. I did have a plan if I received a low number: my dad’s office manager at home was retired Air Force and he had some connections in the local reserve unit.
So…the birthdates were being announced and our group sitting together got progressively smaller as each brother got up and left for home to hopefully get in a reserve unit or the National Guard or maybe a trip north to Canada. In the days of Viet Nam, reservists and those in the Guard were called into active duty only in emergency situations. Some of those that left the porch we never saw again. It was both strange yet understandable–the events and personal reactions to the draft lottery. I was fortunate to draw No. 206 and I recall the first year they only called numbers as high as 195.
My personal feeling about the lottery was favorable because it put ALL men in the age group on equal footing. But the system of draft deferrals, on the other hand, gave a huge advantage to those more well off who could attend college and a huge disadvantage to poorer kids and minorities who could not afford college and obtain a student deferment.