Of course I recall the draft lottery well. My number was 232, but I was already a NROTC "contract" student at UNC at the time of the drawing. I graduated from Carolina as an Ensign in the Navy, commissioned by Admr. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt, who had just been appointed Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Navy’s number one. As his son Jim was a member of our class of 1970 and the NROTC unit, Admiral Zumwalt came to our graduation to oversee our commissioning ceremony.

I don’t suppose I would have thought of the Navy and the NROTC unit at Carolina if I hadn’t believed that we American males would someday be drafted by the military after college. My father served in the Army during World War II (in the Phillipines), as did an uncle. Another uncle was too young but served as an ambulance driver in Italy in the American Field Service (which later evolved into the AFS, the international exchange organization). My great-grandfather, who served in the Spanish-American war in 1898, contracted malaria in Puerto Rico and died within a year of returning to the U.S. So there was already a family tradition of military service going back three generations.

I probably wouldn’t have had such a short haircut for those four years of college either! I did grow a handlebar moustache while in the service (which I still have exactly 38 years later) thanks to the "Z-grams" issued by the CNO to "liberalize" the Navy.  The Admiral’s new rules were illustrated by recruiting posters of the time showing sailors with large moustaches.

However, I was the only member of my extended family (including 11 cousins in my generation of whom I was the eldest) who served in the military in that era. I now have three daughters and a son. My son is currently a Navy officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Dwight Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier deployed in 2006-2007 in the Persian Gulf. He will not be a career officer but wanted to serve the country. He will likely go to Afghanistan for a year before his four-year commitment (after OCS) is fulfilled. In our extended family, which is now 21 in number in his generation, he will likely be the only one to serve in the military, just as I was.