"If you are one of the thousands of men who escaped the draft in the lottery years, we want to hear from you." Who escaped?? Well, hooray for you.

I was number 1 (September 14, 1948) in the first draft lottery. I wasn’t even watching the nationally televised drawing, but I won a small pool of money. I was strongly against the war and participated in a number of anti-war demonstrations, including stuffing five guys into my little compact and driving to the DC Moratorium demonstration in fall 1969. Nixon had Greyhound buses bumper to bumper surrounding the White House.

Friends urged me to join the National Guard, but I decided that the only honorable thing (for me…each has to make his own decision) was to be drafted like the guys who didn’t have that college deferment. They could keep me as long as the law allowed but not a day longer. A year after the Moritorium march, I was at an Army base in Virginia wearing a gas mask and practicing with a rifle and bayonet to control riots, a weird feeling to say the least. They were soon pulling troops out of Vietnam, so I didn’t go.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad experience (hey, it kept me from going to Duke Law School, for which I’m grateful), but I know I was lucky. The Army was rather democratic in its own way and further along in promoting racial equality than a privileged college campus was. I published anti-war letters in the post newspaper and didn’t suffer repercussions (actually, I received the Army Commendation Medal for my work in race relations).