January 13, 2013

Springfield, NJ. December, 1972

When I was in college during the late 1960s, the Vietnam War and protests against it were at their peak. Students had deferments for the most part. But then the dreaded “draft lottery” came along. Dates were officially drawn, the order of their picking determining the order in which young men (whose birthdays corresponded to the dates) were called for the draft. I was at a college basketball game that was paused to follow the broadcast of the lottery, and I can recall how my heart sank as my birthday came up #16 in the drawing. I can also recall the mix of comedy and horror that was my draft physical examination in April, 1970. There was a bomb scare and the building was evacuated. A young man interrupted a strutting, spouting sergeant (“If you don’t fill out this form correctly, you goin’ to Veet Nom!”) by suddenly playing a harmonica. A bad scene. No wonder my heart rate was way higher than acceptable when it was taken, my blood pressure, too. Still, that was not the end of the frightening saga. It was not until two years after the physical that this, my draft card, finally arrived in the mail, classifying me as unfit for service.

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