1969-70 was my senior year at UGA. From high school, Vietnam had been an ever-growing issue in the nation and in my life. There was collecting care packages for the troops, registering for the draft, taking the exemption exam as a freshman at UGA, the daily body count on nightly news coverage not to mention the news films and commentary, the growing anger and division, demonstrations, and deaths. One of my closest high school friends had already lost an older brother in Vietnam by the time the lottery rolled around.

In the summer of 1969, I met a new girl in my life. For Thanksgiving, we joined her family at a country club dinner where her brother was the golf pro. That night, I was hospitalized with food poisoning. During my stay in the hospital was when the lottery occurred.

In those days, there were no televisions in rooms, room phones were cut off at an early hour, and there were no cell phones. I had to wait until the next day for a friend to look up my birthday in the newspaper and report to me that I was number 239, or something close to that. I was safe! We seem to have forgotten that most everyone wanted to be "safe" by this time.

My roommate in the dorm for junior-senior men, Joe Brown Hall, informed me that in my absence, those living in Joe Brown created a pool for the man with the lowest draft number. I do not remember the lowest number, I believe it was under 10, nor did I know the individual who "won" the pot.

My roommate drew somewhere in the 150’s and had to report for a physical, where it was discovered he had chronic high blood pressure which kept him out of the military but also probably saved his life as he immediately began receiving medical attention for it. His younger brother died in Vietnam in the spring of 1970.

The volunteer military, with which I agree, was a campaign promise Richard Nixon kept. It has, however, removed the pain of our nation’s military involvements from the general public. Today, men and women volunteer for service rather than mom taking the dreaded draft letter from the mailbox informing her son he is to report. As a result, only the families with volunteers feel the intensity of war and its costs.