Leading up to the draft lottery, the news media reminded us of the importance of the numbers. Those with low numbers would most certainly be drafted and soon. The lucky guys with higher numbers, basically above 180 would be "safe".
On lottery night there were some that had group gatherings. Other huddled around TVs in dorm lounges. I was nervous about my future like most. In December of 1969 I was only 20 years old but only one semester away from my BBA. At the time, Sue and I had been dating for 2 years and we both looked forward to the end of school and a good job in the business world.
Because of the intensity of the night, I decided to watch the lottery in my dorm room, alone. My cousin Randy, about 28 months older than me was also watching the lottery closely. His number came up 71. It was low enough that it changed his life dramatically. He ended up joining the National Guard and serving his time there.
When my number was pulled, I remember holding my breath. Then, the lucky news, 273. I was safe.
Although I was at very low risk to be drafted, I still had the draft on my mind in the spring. Because of my major, production management, and my interest in the steel industry, I took a job at a Chicago area steel mill. Even without the protection of a high lottery number, I would still have been protected by working in the steel industry.
To finish the story, I was awarded my BBA in August 1970. That was also when Sue and I were married. This August we’ll celebrate our 38th anniversary. We have two sons, both married living out of state.
Do we remember the tumultuous days of the late 60’s? Sure, hard to forget those experiences. But I’m happy that my own children didn’t feel the helplessness that young men experienced in 1969 when they saw their number in single or double digits.