I entered the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1965 thinking I was a conservative Republican, which reflected not only my upbringing, but also the collective views of my extended family. Lots happened in the next few years (anti-war protests, King’s assasination, Bobby Kennedy’s assasination) but two other days stand out vividly in my memory. The first was when Gene McCarthy announced that he was running for president, the second was when Lyndon Johnson announced that he was not. At McCarthy’s announcement, the scales fell from my eyes, and I am still proud to say that today I am a flaming liberal, representing the left wing of the Democratic party.
During this time the the draft loomed as a defining issue in my life, as it did in the lives of all young U.S. males. Safe with a student deferment, I nonetheless knew that it was going to eventually end. I toyed with ROTC, but my heart was not in it. Canada looked appealing.
Then, in 1968 I began to feel severe pains in my lower back, which were eventually diagnosed as a condition of chronic inflamation for which there was no cure, only relief from pain medication. I asked my doctor to forward my x-rays and his diagnosis to my draft board. The next thing I know, I am 4F — wow! Then in the lottery that followed, I draw 350, safe in all regards. My perfectly healthy brother, however, draws 20 and enters the National Guard. The irony is, my disease burned out, and I am both healthy and alive today, and sane enough to feel about Iraq the same revulsion I felt about Viet Nam.