Open Thread 10/22/21 - The Draft

I woke up in 1968 when I was 14. I smoked my first weed. I grew my hair long. I became aware. I paid attention to politics for the first time. I saw older guys going off to war. Some didn't come back. I realized what was at stake. I knew what may be in store for me in just a few years. I became an activist.

Here's my original draft card from 1973 (redacted of course) back when my hair was still brown. I was also 3 inches shorter than I am now:

SS.jpg

Notice my classification of 1A. That meant I was fit for duty.

Notice the date of classification. I was 19.

Notice the Random Sequence Number. When you turned 18 you received a Random Sequence Number. The number was selected at random by pulling ping pong balls from a large glass container. The lower the number the better the chance that you'd be drafted. My number was 018. I was sure to be drafted.

I turned 18 in 1972 and was supposed to report to the local Selective Service Board. I didn't do it. I didn't go. Nothing ever happened. They didn't come for me, I didn't receive anything in the mail. I was living in Memphis in 1972 and '73. I worked and paid into Social Security. Surely they could have easily found me but nothing ever became of it.

Here's why:

A lottery drawing – the first since 1942 – was held on December 1, 1969, at Selective Service National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This event determined the order of call for induction during calendar year 1970; that is, for registrants born between January 1, 1944, and December 31, 1950. Re-institution of the lottery was a change from the “draft the oldest man first” method, which had been the determining method for deciding order of call.

There were 366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates placed in a large glass container and drawn by hand to assign order-of-call numbers to all men within the 18-26 age range specified in Selective Service law.

With radio, film, and TV coverage, the capsules were drawn from the container, opened, and the dates inside posted in order. The first capsule – drawn by Congressman Alexander Pirnie (R-NY) of the House Armed Services Committee – contained the date September 14, so all men born on September 14 in any year between 1944 and 1950 were assigned lottery number 1. The drawing continued until all days of the year had been paired with sequence numbers.

Lottery Drawings

Administrative processing number (APN) denotes the highest lottery numbers called for each table year. The APN (highest number) called for a physical was 215 for tables 1970 through 1976.

The last draft call was on December 7, 1972, and the authority to induct expired on June 30, 1973. The date of the last drawing for the lottery was on March 12, 1975. Registration with the Selective Service System was suspended on April 1, 1975, and registrant processing was suspended on January 27, 1976.

Bolding is mine.

Source

I was awakened politically by the Vietnam War and the late '60s scene. Over 50 years later and I'm still at it.

Question: When/where/what/why did you become politically aware/active? Was there a definitive moment or did you slide into it gradually?

This is a covid 19 free open thread. Please post your covid 19 posts in The Dose. Thank you.

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got any good anti-war songs?

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@JtC @JtC

In 1969 my first husband left for a year spent in Chu Lai. He also visited Da Nang and spent some time at Long Binh army base.

He returned. The marriage was over. Me and my tiny daughter headed for CA where we rented an apartment on Windward, one block from the sand of Venice Beach. lots of drugs and good times

Then, eventually, on to Summertown TN for another few years of learning. and more psychedelics, pot and peyote, mushrooms. Renewed, healed... I headed home.

Back to NYC and being a teacher, re-marrying---a long happy one this time, and political activism and being part of insuring that long after me and my fellow tenant warriors are no longer here, there will be families living in decent affordable housing because of what we did. Our 6 1/2 year court battle against Michael Bloomberg set the model for the conversion of middle-class housing developments for the entire City. We did not stop gentrification permanently, but we put a significant spoke in its wheels.

Not the Win we wanted which would have been every apartment affordable forever, but a win nevertheless.

Now our neighborhood is the wealthiest in NYC. And we are still here. The sole outpost of diversity and mixed income housing around.

America still loses profit driven wars to make a few of us rich at the expense of all the world's creatures.

Biden in Glasgow---I cannot even bear to think of this guy giving our county's climate message.

One day at a time now....

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NYCVG

JekyllnHyde's picture

@JtC

The haunting music is by Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni - Adagio in G Minor. The poem, perhaps the most famous anti-war poem to come out of World War I, is by Wilfred Owen. He died one week before the war ended on the eleventh hour, 11th day, and 11th month of 1918.

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

mimi's picture

@JekyllnHyde
I was in highschool (mid-sixties) My mother's father served in WWI and it made him the only one in her family to never become a Hitler supporter (though he worked in the most racist government institute of that time in Berlin) His wife was a Hitler supporter, his son became a supporter, his eldest daughter was a little rebel woman finding it exiting to march with the spartacus folks, but she was a Nazi quite a bit. The Russians adter the end of WWII in 1945 raped her in front of my grandpa's eyes and one of them produced my beloved cousin, who later in life (the sixties) digged underground tunnels between former East Berlin and West Berlin to help some East Berliners to crawl through the tunnels to West Berlin. I guess He was a goody of a traitor to the communist Russians that way.

My poor grandpa. I never had the luck to know him. He died before my birth - of hunger more or less at the end of 1946

The music is haunting and beautiful and so sad. Very nice of you to post it and bring back memories.

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mimi

@JekyllnHyde effing awesome...

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Lookout's picture

I had a very similar experience, but my 1st lottery # was 254, and my second was in the 300's...so I was lucky. Would have gone to Canada had been called up to serve, but glad it didn't come to that. Went to the protest at Nixon's last inauguration in DC...the biggest antiwar protest I've experienced.

Here in Alabama I was also thrown into the civil rights movement...which eventually became the poor peoples campaign...working on both race and economic equity.

What I ponder these days "is have we made any progress?" The 60's were so full of hope and change, but it seems we went backwards...declining into more war, more inequality, more injustice.

None the less I'm so glad I had the opportunity to mature in those times. Thanks for the memories...

I like to sing a slightly modernized version of this one...

Eve of Destruction. I've modified the verses a bit...

Middle East it is explodin', drones a swarmin', bombers loadin'
All these wars without votin'
So we can sell all those gun they're a totin'
It's death and destruction that we're promotin'

All these wars about more oil. It's the drug that's killin' us all
Climate collapsin' and our empire falls.
Can't you hear extinction's call
Cause the writin' is on the wall

Other modifications are minor...

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

snoopydawg's picture

@Lookout

and the devastation we are doing in the Middle East. Wasn’t the Vietnam war one of the last wars that the media actually covered in truth? Now they are embedded to white wash the damage to country, people and civilians living there. Let’s show that bomb blast that murdered 10 Afghani children that Miley said was righteous! Let’s show the bombings of weddings funerals and then the bombings of the people who come to rescue people. Collateral Murder was probably the last one seen. And look what is happening now to Julian Assange for showing it.

I have always stood behind Reverend Wright: "Gawd Damn America!'

Now congress has made it so women are draft eligible. Say it again, Rev. GDA!

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

Between Sesame Street, the Disney Robin Hood, Fern Gully, and Captain Planet, I've been politically conscious practically since kindergarten.

I was Greta Thunberg before Greta Thunberg even existed; I just have yet to become famous. Who knew skipping school was the path to fame and success???

I contrast that with my father, who'd be several years your junior: Growing up in the 1960s, he heard the Vietnam casualties every morning on the radio; he says he just kind of internalized an assumed fate that he would turn 18, be drafted, "and that would be it" - funny thing (or maybe just "Jewish thing"), that did nothing to stop him from being a whiz student all through school; the war ended before he came of age, he went on to college, then grad school, and put all that academic achievement to work giving his family a genuine specimen of The American Dream, for a while.

Here's a little ditty about somebody else's "American Dream":

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We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

probably was the event that woke me up to something strange and unexplained going on in the big world out there, although I was too young to put it in the context of the political arena.

Then the next year I found myself fascinated by watching endless hours of both political conventions on tv, the R convention in San Francisco (!) in July, then a month later the D convo in Atlantic City.

In 1966 a local newsman visited our elementary school to explain and sell the Vietnam War to us with a slideshow presentation. I recall in the Q&A that followed asking him a somewhat skeptical question which wasn't quite in the rah-rah spirit of his talk.

The 1968 Dem convo exceeded the 1964 conventions for drama as they also confirmed my interest in politics and larger issues as did the two disturbing assassinations that year.

I too was subject to the 1972 draft lottery, drawing a safe 3-digit number. And thank goodness the Trickster was winding down all US combat activity by the time of that lottery, in order to run as the Peace Candidate against the guy he wanted to run against, McGovern, who had expected to be the one calling himself the Peace Candidate. Nixon stole it in '68, and stole it by other means in '72 as his tricksters arranged to knock Muskie out of the race in order for their boss to face the politically less viable McG, a decent guy who didn't have the political chops to go head to head with cutthroat Nixon and who didn't have the broad appeal that Muskie did, all of which Nixon recognized.

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I turned 18 in 1971 and my draft number was something like 175 and did not have to worry about getting drafted. But many of my friends had drama over conscription.

My high school and college debate partner drew Number 32. He came from a prominent Republican family in Dallas -- his brother was an assistant District Attorney who later became the first GOP judge elected in Dallas County since reconstruction. His father later got elected to the State Legislature. It would have been very difficult for him to avoid the draft by leaving the country or claiming Conscientious Objector status -- difficult but not quite impossible.

Luckily for him, he came up with a better scheme. He was 6'2" and a thin 160 pounds at age 19 and he checked the height and weight chart from the SSS. All he had to do was get down to 132 pounds and he would become ineligible.

He went on what he called the Diet Dr Pepper diet. Whenever he got hungry, he would drink a Diet Dr. Pepper. Not an optimal tactic from a health perspective, but those were the days. He got down to below 130 for his physical and nobody in his family ever knew he had gotten a draft notice.

Another Dallas friend from the sixties was a little older and he reached draft age before the lottery. At his draft interview he falsely stated that he was a homosexual. Younger people may not realize how much spleen that took for a teenager in Texas as of 1969.

Another of my high school friends got a job on an oil rig in Iran in the Shah Era. Rather than get killed by the Viet Cong, he got knocked off the deck of the platform into the Persian Guld by an unsecured cable.

.

I have had this conversation with many Gen X friends. Baby Boomers won two of our many fights with the Establishment -- we ended the draft and we forced the Religious Right to back the fuck off of the First Amendment. Now you can say things like "back the fuck off" wiothout fear of a cop arresting you for obscenity.

We turned inward and ignored the Big Money counter attack that started in the late 70s and is pushing harder than ever right now. Many of us made a lot of money and many others simply "outgrew" their opposition to things like war now that they would not be required to participate.

Both of my draft dodging "friends" became Chicken Hawks by the time the Bush Presidents buried the Vietnam Syndrome with wars against Iraq.

Hard to dismiss selfishness as an explanation of human behavior. It may not be the only thing that makes people take action -- but it is really hard to find anything else that motivates human beings so well.

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I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

@fire with fire that we get more conservative as we age.
I understand a boomer upgrade in circumstances, then wanting to preserve it. I
have remained lefty, have been way, way left since age 4. My parents rose so far above theirs in income and "class", they were embarrassed, tended to give and give and give more to the poor and otherwise disadvantaged.
I can say, it embarrasses me that my employees and neighbors can't have what I have every day. When I can, I share.

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I started at Gettysburg College in the fall of 1969. In 1970, the school, which was and pretty much still is leaning towards conservativism, allowed students to organize trips to anti war rallies, etc. I was intrigued by it, so I went on a college bus to a rally in Harrisburg. It wasn't only anti-war, as I marched right in front of a banner held by a Black Panther's group.

Then in my sophomore year the college allowed the students (with faculty input) to host a 3 day event called Symposium 70. It exposed me to all kinds of new ideas and definitely shaped my future. I remember Michael Harrington's speech and talking to Allen Ginsberg in a small group.

https://www.gettysburg.edu/news/stories?id=9b08fc1c-71dc-40d9-b0f3-fe014...

In 1972 I cast my first vote for McGovern. In 2020, I wrote his name in for President again. I figured that that I came into the Democratic Party with George McGovern, who represented the core values of the Party, and I should go out with George McGovern since there no longer is a real Democratic Party.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Fishtroller 02 when I knew he had already lost. I voted anyway, and for him. So he isn't cute. He had some good policy ideas.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

@Dawn's Meta

Listen Liberal and The People, No! by Thomas Frank.

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

mimi's picture

Question: When/where/what/why did you become politically aware/active? Was there a definitive moment or did you slide into it gradually?

For me - being on the other side of the Atlanic - there was a definitive moment.

I was just sent (after my highschool graduation, called the Abitur (German highshcool graduation final exam) from Hamburg - city where I was born in 1948 - to Berlin in Germany. This was late 1967.

In Berlin I had a female cousin of mine. My father decided to place me there to live in her little townhome in a tiny attic room, close to the Freie Universität Berlin in Dahlem. The metro station 'Onkel Tom's Hütte' was the one that showed this was the area of the American Sector of Berlin. As we said back in the days: The Amis lived there. Wink

It was decided I should study to become a Pharmacist (Apotheker) and was supposed to make the mandatory two year internship at a Pharmacy, before I could start university level classes to become a future Pharmacist. My female cousin was a Pharmacist - around ten to twelve years older than me. So apparently my father thought it was 'safe' to send me over to her in Berlin.

Then I was placed into a Pharmacy of another female cousin's husband, who owned two Pharmacies and started the internship.

I actually didn't want to become a Pharmacist, but wanted to become a Physician with a Medical Degree from an University.

But In order to study Medicine in Germany at any Unniversity you had to be an A+ student to be accepted at all.

I was a B- to C+ student, but one in the mathematics branch of my highschool, in one of our German Länder (=states) known to have tough standards.

I had no chance to enter the classes to study Medicine at university level. Thay called that - back in the days - the Numerus Clausus - and the Numerus Clausus was the reason why I would have to wait around three years to get a place at any University to study Medicine. A bit of a long time to wait for that, yep, those were the days.

I had no chance. I didn't want to become a Pharmacist, I couldn't get a Medical Degree to become a physician.

I decided to take classes in Chemistry at the Technical University in Berlin, hoping that later in time they account for mandatory chemistry classes in Medicine.

That's how I walked around the campus of the Technical University in Berlin and visited a bookstore across the TU (Technical University of Berlin). I browsed through some chemistry books and a black man started to chat with me and wanted to know what I studied. That took about 5 minutes and then we walked to the next metro station (Zoologischer Garten) to each go our own ways. It took no more than 20 minutes.

Some days later I got a call from my father asking if I hadn't to tell him something. I had no idea what he meant.

What he meant was that I had been seen walking with a black man and that I had to come home to Hamburg - immediately -. At those times with 19 years of age I had not yet reached legal age and so I had to obey my father's demand to come home to Hamburg. Back in Hamburg I was asked to 'leave this man for good' or else I could not continue to live in Berlin.

I was so disgusted by my father's open racial prejudices, that I refused his demands.

So then I was - what I guess the Americans call being - disowned and from that point on I struggled through life on my own.

In the first weeks in October to December 1967 there were many mass student protests against the USA and the Vietnam War. We were anti-Americans for sure. And we had no clue what the Vietnam War (and with it the Draft you talk about in your essay) really meant for the average American men who had to fight in there.

Being disowned because I chatted with a black man in a bookstore for 10 minutes and watching Rudi Dutschke being shot at, was my turning point.

I never forgot or forgave that shit.

My life and my later born son's life was severly influenced by it.

My black man was an African, who went in Franch colonial times through the French school system. That was how I came in contact with the French's Sector in Berlin and learned about their schools. Til today I feel they are better and fairer. My son learned to speak French with three years of age.

And I started to pay attention. May be people think I am too sensitive with regards to racial and tribal attitudes and thinking, but I would say, I know what 'nice' and 'subtle' racism is about - in minor ways, at least.

BTW I want to make a documentary based on my life. I hope I can make it. It should be a great movie. There is much more to it than the parts I talk about it here.. But I leave that private, so you have some incentives to watch the rest of the story one day.

Ha! I am moving on makeing a movie in my mind. Smile

Have a good one and lots of thanks for the "DRAFT" essay.

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mimi

earthling1's picture

I was prime red meat for the draft. Luckily, I "lost" the lottery in the suceeding years, although my older brother "won". Again, luckily, he came back.
He was never the same person again though. But that's another story.
I was politcally aware at 8 years old. Sputnik lit me off early in all things involving the space race, which morphed into politics.
Since my Mom was a cop she would bring home 3 local newspapers that she got for free, the LA Times, Herald Examiner, and the Tribune. I would scour them front to back, including the stocks.
I once threw my ice cream at George Putnam on the tv and lived for the "fairness doctrine" rebuttal.
I've remained this way throughout my life, a newshound and political junkie. Only now through multiple worldwide websites and monitoring the international tv network lies, mis-information, and propaganda.
It is getting really hard to discern the truth from any source anywhere out there.
I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating- C99% is my home website where I have trust in what I read.
Thanks to you, JtC.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Azazello's picture

We have so much in common, my friend, like all those dates and milestones. I'm guessing you're Class of '72.
My family was always a little political. We read the papers, watched the news and talked about stuff. My mom was an old-time FDR Dem with memories of the Depression and all that. Certainly it was 'Nam that woke a lot of us up. I was in CA in those years. Ronald Ray-Gun was governor. The entire UC system was in more-or-less constant turmoil and always in the news. Plus the culture, you know, the music, the dope and the etc.

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It didn't have to be this way.

Dawn's Meta's picture

in high school. Our senior assembly was shut down because (1968) the guys were all eligible. We were a mostly affluent, white, new hs, but the draft was a big deal. The class officers wore ankle high laced boots and did a kick line to ...hell no, we won't go.

Then a couple of years later, my WWII dad was giving every young man in hearing distance advice to go to Canada.

After that, I remember mostly working, going to school, and learning a brand new field in high tech. Not paying much attention except for environmental issues. Woodstock early on.

The 2000 election and the Bush years were activating for me. The 2008 financial fiasco; the election of Obama and the people he put in his government really woke me up. I knew we were in for a ride.

I studied finance guy, Johnson, forget his first name for a minute, but really wanted to understand what all the economics were about.

So I guess it was a gradual piling on of events. I remember looking back at all the deaths and assassinations and feeling a terrible wound had been put on us all. We never really healed from VN. Every family had a tie to someone who went. I had girlfriends married to soldiers who came back wrecked.

When I was young (12 maybe) reading a local political column about Portland politics called Baker's Dozen. Read it daily with enthusiasm. So not sure if there was one event.

The Obama shift/pivot/betrayal was a real wake up call for me.

Thanks for asking.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

ggersh's picture

my number was 200 or above but lucky me the number in 1971 was 26. I think I got my
message less than a week later to report for duty. Lucky for me I had been hospitalized for a bad pancreas just one year earlier and my Doc assured me that would get me a 4F. But I'll be damned and I passed my physical so I demanded I see the top Major? Colonel? asshole because I had brought the papers showing my hospitalization and that I shouldn't have passed the test.
Well lucky me the Colonel agreed and gave me my 4F, for if he hadn't I would've tried to get to Canada.

Regarding the political system I had thought I heard from the Warren Commission or something else in regards to the Kennedy assassination that the results wouldn't be released to the public for 75 years and I knew then that a democracy we were not.

https://alt.assassination.jfk.narkive.com/EO1WDZds/why-the-jfk-assassina...

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The correct response to someone who supports going to war if China attacks Taiwan is “Are you enlisted?”

The correct response when they inevitably answer “no” is “Then shut the fuck up.”

Caitlin

snoopydawg's picture

@ggersh

that congress ordered done. Trump said he would, but then didn’t. Biden’s blaming it on Covid because people can’t talk to each other right now even though 60 years has passed.

Therefore, Biden wrote, “temporary continued postponement is necessary to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations.”

Guess we can’t let the world know that we will murder any president that doesn’t toe the war machine line now can we? Censor yes. Murder no.

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

ggersh's picture

@snoopydawg https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=145&v=K-M0CfATkIY&feature=em...

"JFK to 911- Everything is a Rich Man's Trick"

They just don't want us to know the truth and pass on the truth

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4 users have voted.

The correct response to someone who supports going to war if China attacks Taiwan is “Are you enlisted?”

The correct response when they inevitably answer “no” is “Then shut the fuck up.”

Caitlin

QMS's picture

gotcha mojo woikin'

one of them kinda daze

came of age in '73 so just missed the drafty thing into 'Nam
tried out for the Coast Guard, the military dude axed me if I would go
overseas to fight, said hell no and walked. Went the merchant marine route
instead. Lost too many friends in the little incursion during the southeast asian
police action. Democracy not.

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on the steps of the Albany, NY capital building. I had only been a driver but was pressed to perform when one of the other vehicles in the troupe was waylaid. Subsequently attended anti war protest in DC, carrying a placard with the name of a dead Nebraska boy, which was then placed in a coffin in front of the White House. I stayed away from the tear gas at other venues of that protest weekend.

My lottery number was 305, so I was safe. I had already filed as a conscientious objector (fat chance!) after registering for the draft six months late. I was fearful of arrest and was required having to sign some sort of affidavit that the delay was inadvertent. My CO file was left ‘open’, but my Bridgeport CT draft had a perfect record of denying 100%. My plan B was Canada.

Nothing quite like the threat of bodily injury or death to snap someone out of the ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ illusion into a cold blooded reality.

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Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority. Meanwhile people are dying because of the material self-interest of a few. - Eduardo Giuliani

“Without a diversity of opinions, the discovery of truth is impossible.” - Alexander von Humboldt

Never heard from the draft board. For me I started to become politically aware with the SDS occupying Columbia University. The Berrigans, and others, protested US policy, but the SDS had the organization and network that made it a movement (at least to me) and other organizers followed. It's been down hill ever since.

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dystopian's picture

Hi all,

What a great trip of a thread JtC!

What a bunch of amazing heart wrenching stories. Holy cow. Thank you all! A lot of us were right on the cusp fore and aft of the big change. I turned 18 in '73 but the lottery ended before my birthday and I did not register. I had decided a few years earlier that if that happened, I would become a Canadian, eh. I remember watching the lotteries on TV worried about my brother a year older than I.

Coming into high school when all the protests and assassinations were going on made a major impression on me. By 14-15 as a sophmore I met a wonderful herb and Orange Sunshine. I was radicalized. My soul had been psychedelicized. I had seen the world from another point of view, or frame of reference, than that we were fed, programmed, and brain washed with. Which I hadn't bought into anyway. There was no turning back for me.

We organized sit-ins to make it so girls could wear pants and guys could have hair over their collar. And won. I think 1970, Huntington Bch, CA. Was always a newshound and keen on politics, and our social evolutions in progress. Never was mainstream of thought though. Always preferred to walk along the edge and look in.

Interestingly and surprisingly to me I would say most of the gang sold out. Almost none of my cohort joined the military. Most today that I know of are RED no matter what, totally convinced blue libruls is THE problem. They took regular jobs, and were cogs in institutions. Which I generally have avoided like the plague. You work too long in an institution and most end up belonging in one. Wink

Later I spent thousands of hours working on various enviro projects, including playing key roles in saving a few places. A LA City Councilman referred to me to a friend as that 'seal savin' owl lovin' tree huggin' radical environmentalist. I reached the very pinnacle of success. Other city officials in a couple other LA area cities had less nice things to say. Smile

Thanks for the great thread fearless leader!

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

Lookout's picture

@dystopian

I Chased a rainbow down a one-way street... dead end
And all my friends turned out to be insurance salesmen

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/johnprine/illegalsmile.html

Cause so many did sell out. Money is seductive and some succumb. Glad I had other goals.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

My parents grew cotton on a farm in Dayton, Texas. 1956.
I learned to pick cotton from some black woman with the Aunt Jemima scarf on her head. I picked beside her until I got tired, which was really quick. She would take me back to our truck.
What stands out in my memory is that Mama would get up at 3 a.m to cook and gather ingredients for meals. At midday, the pickers came to the truck, got a meal. They got water. Mom cleaned up after them.
The awakening was that it made me so aware was that we were full on Jim Crow. I learned to question, if not to downright fight. Jim Crow resentment of authority spilled over to my protests of VN, and my first protest of a corporation killing a virety of shrimp on the campus of Baylor university. I was 16, a freshman. I was told I would be expelled if I did such a thing again.

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Shahryar's picture

I know I was in junior high school. I read an article in the newspaper, one of the New York dailies, explaining why bombing Vietnamese targets was a good idea and why it would work. So I took it into school as if that article had good info. Well....!!

some of my friends, who I respected, gave me the real story, opening my eyes. They were young but very aware, knew all about the French occupation, about how Ho Chi Minh was prevented from becoming leader of the whole country...you know all that, of course. So not only did I learn the details of Vietnam, I also started distrusting what I read in the newspaper. More on that in a bit.

In 1967 I, and 100,000 other people, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. against the war in New York. I bet many of you were there, too. And we all cheered in early 1968 when "hey hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today" announced he wouldn't run. Surely that meant either Bobby or Gene would be the next President. That's when I learned "they" control it all.

Off I went to hippie college where no one wore shoe or sock. I got my draft number. 128. My buddy had 64 and I enjoyed saying (too many times?) "that goes for me double!" It was announced that they'd only go up to...well, something lower than 64 and we both dropped our student deferments immediately.

Then in 1973 the CIA overthrew Allende. I read the account in the New York Times the next day. Shockingly they neglected to mention the CIA at all! Shockingly they were clearly lying. And that did it. The final straw. I'd already been suspicious of our news media. That was a critical point for me. From then on I knew I'd have to read between the lines as best I could to figure out what was going on, and whether it was important or not.

It sure is easy to be fatalistic. There's nothing to be done except find a niche, live the best we can. If you're part of the power structure and attempt a coup you get protected. If you're an outsider and present proof of corruption you get sent to maximum security. The Dark Ages!

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Objector' and I owe too much credit to explain as to what an advisor's advice at High School would end up meaning in my life.
I don't remember that advisor's name was because I was sent there for a disciplinary reason and I had to listen but for some reason after talking with me he told me about this Conscientious Objector category. He told me it meant if I were sent over it would be far behind any military operations, part of the clerical type stuff.

I followed his advice but also got busted in LA on felony drug charges (pot and white cross speed pills) and that further disqualified me for the draft, so with a 1Y classification, plus drug charges, I was safe from the draft but that didn't last.

While I was living in Boulder Colo.I hung out at a pool room which happened to be a block away from the University where anti war protests were going strong and I first started listening to views and news that changed my feelings from just being about avoiding the draft to strongly feeling that the war itself should stop.

So I became part of the campus protests but along the way I was told the 1Y classification had been ended and that many of those using it seemed to now be mysteriously ending up towards the top draft numbers.
That changed things quickly in many ways as warrants in Texas and California weren't enforceable outside of each State but now the possibility of arrest was federal, so relocating to another State wouldn't work and I had heard talk about Canada from others my age but Canada was to me a far fetched idea. I knew no-one nor anything about the place so I dropped the idea, then the giant change in my life happened.

I was living about in the mountains in a few miles outside of a former mining town outside of Boulder, Ward, with a population of about 80 people so everyone knew everyone, maybe not the whole story on each person, but there were no strangers. Usually.

I was sharing a cabin with a great friend (1970), David, from Charleston SC (to this day still a friend)and his family had a very good name in Charleston, his brother a big lawyer that also would accept agricultural products from poor clients.
One day a mutual friend Suzy, the postmistress, told David he needed to call home asap which of course he did and apparently in deference to his family the FBI said their son should tell me nothing and leave that cabin asap.They were going to raid it.

There had been strangers appearing in town asking about their long lost friend but they really stood out because they dressed like most people living there, muckluck boots, checkered shirts etc, but everything was brand new, they seriously stuck out in that town.

Our cabin was a few miles hike off the Peak to Peak highway going thru Ward and of course when David got to the cabin he told me all about it but I had no car and no money but where could I go?
It just so happened I kept the address of a lady, Gail,(whom you'll later hear about) I met one night visiting a mutual friend in Ward who gave me her address in Vancouver BC if I ever came to Canada.

I didn't mention it but David also worried about being drafted, so David, myself, my girlfriend and her three year old son took off hitchhiking to BC but getting across the border was a real problem, first of all I had no ID and no-one had money.

So David split off from me, my girlfriend, Chris, and her son Dylan, because it would make sneaking across the border a little easier than all of us at once when we got near the border station.
Myself, Chris and her son hiked up the hill out of sight of the border crossing booth (only one booth, small crossing picked on purpose) and when we approached the clearing with barbed wire fence we had to cross, then down to the river and up to the highway.

Now Dylan was only three years old and being quiet while crossing wasn't something that could be easily explained so I told him it was a game and we all had to be quiet crossing over the open area and thru the fence.
Dylan was quick and quiet getting thru the fence wires I held open, and he was really excited we'd made it and it was so much fun he wanted to do it again.

To keep this shorter let me say we all made it to that address in Vancouver but my relationship with Chris came to an end eventually her and Dylan went back to Boulder.

I couldn't go back so I stayed and used Gail's last name building up a Canadian identity, and work history, (including five years as a brakeman for Canadian Pacific) for twelve years.
So all three of my children and two grandsons were all born in BC and have never lived elsewhere and I've long since went back to my real name with all warrants, federal and State(s), no longer in effect.

Final note, I was 20 years when I went to Canada and now I live 20 miles from the border and just a just a few weeks ago I went and spent my 71st birthday with my daughter, her mom and my two grandsons.

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9 users have voted.

good stuff right here!

The bastids sure learned a lesson when it comes to the draft didn't they. And about showing flag draped caskets coming home from abroad. And controlling the narrative on the evening news. And squelching protests.

We live the consequences of that every day as the meat grinder rolls on.

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5 users have voted.

When I was living in Nelson BC and hired on to the railroad one of our runs was up a nearby Slocan Valley and on one trip my engineer told me it was nicknamed 'Little America' due to all "the Yankees" living there and with a lot of draft dodgers.
I would end up meeting a lot of them in town in the pubs as my southern accent told them immediately that I was also a draft dodger.

The 'Make our Country Yours' was a public service announcement I heard on the radio. I guess there were so many draft dodgers in Canada they decided that to make them citizens if they would come forward and be taxpaying citizens.

All I know is that I trusted no government and felt it was a trap, or maybe my felony warrants would disqualify me and they'd know right where I was and hand me over to the US. So I stayed away from that offer.

About the Slocan Valley draft dodgers, many talked like living in BC was temporary and they would go back to the US when they were safe from arrest.
But I guess they liked living in BC instead because this many years later most of them are still around, along with their children that have grown up there and had children.

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I guess, with the urban riots, civil rights movement and war coverage of the mid-60's - then the shock of the MLK and RFK assassinations (and the attempt on Wallace). All of this was mostly far removed, physically, being in an all-white small town in Oregon, but we had previously lived in California, where my father was stationed while in the Navy and that had been very multicultural and seemingly amicable, so I was confused as to how integration should be something anyone would oppose, or how race relations could go so off the rails.

Things did get more personal, somehow, when I got to see Bobbie Kennedy up close in the closing bit of his primary campaign in Oregon in 1968 (he lost to McCarthy) and then having him killed just a week later after winning California and locking up the nomination.

My one and only diary at TOS: Bobbie Kennedy Birthday Blues

In HS, we had a popular vice-principle who initiated an after-school symposium where he would invite various speakers, from holy-roller evangelists to local hippies (this was an area where a lot of hippies headed after the SF scene started to go sour), including the Black Student Union of the nearest college (Southern Oregon College, Ashland) which probably constituted the entirety of the black student population there. This didn't make him very popular among the many of the locals - he was kicked upstairs to an administrative position and later moved to Portland and opened a waterbed store...

I recall the leader of one of the hippie communes being asked if they had or were planning on getting electricity. He allowed that they might in the future "If we figure out how to use it". Struck me as pretty dumb at the time, 'hey - you turn on the switch, the light comes on...' Wasn't until decades later I figured out he meant something to the effect of 'If we figure out how to use it *wisely*.

The BSU thing did prompt me to read "Soul on Ice" by Eldridge Cleaver...

Another seminal thing also had to do with Southern Oregon College - there was a Saturday Able and Gifted program where, on Saturdays for a couple months, you could ride the 40 miles or so on a bus to go there and have a sort of mini-course with one of the professors there. My first time around, I took one called "Who Governs?" by a professor Gallo, who fit my image of a truck driver more than prof, and who had done some research into some city in California (Pasadena, IIRC) regarding who it was that actually made the important decisions there. Well, surprise, surprise, it turned out to not be "we (they) the people" but an elite of the wealthy and connected.
*That* was something of a departure from the high school civics version of reality at the time and has prompted me ever since to try and figure out just who is calling the shots, how and with what sort of agenda.

The guy the following year looked like a semi-crazed hippie version of Jerry Lewis, who alternated between talking anthropology and LSD. Came close to majoring in it (Anthro) but it was a pretty lame department at the college I ended up attending so didn't.

Came up lucky lottery-wise my freshman year there in the 1971 lottery - had previously been ambivalent about the war, but had soured on it partly as a result of work with combat vets the summer out of HS and hearing some of the attitude and casual accounts of atrocities from some of them (there were other vets who clearly found that sort of thing wrong and revolting).

Don't remember my actual number but is was about two-thirds of the way down and only the first third or so were taken. Got several of my friends, though - one was rich & with connections and got into the Coast Guard, another the Navy.

Although I was glad at the time not to have been taken, and making everyone (male) subject to the draft did hasten the end of the war, I regret it on some level now as it led to the 'professional', substantially mercenary, military - and the people who serve are still the poor and those that send them are still the privileged...

The country may be too large for it to work in the US, but I see great advantages in the Swiss system - minimal professional military but an armed, trained and disciplined populace as a real comprehensive defense - for civil and natural disasters as well as war.

Proud to have voted for the first time for McGovern in 1972. We were on a political science trip to DC that fall and, due to the election, got to actually see few politicians - but were at ground zero for the Watergate revelations. That put us - unrealizing - in a bubble, though, as only the Washington Post and to a more limited extent NYT were really covering the story. Not knowing the very limited extent it was getting out to the rest of the country we were say unprepared, psychologically, for the extent to which McGovern would get blown out of the water.

Was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and thank him personally in Montana around 2001 or so - was in a small restaurant having dinner with my folks and there was only one other couple in the place - would never have even noticed had my father not pointed him out. So, actually I've shaken hands with both McGovern and Nixon (latter as a kid in Cal. when he was running for governor).

Continuing to pay attention, voted for Trump twice. Although my first choice both times were D's: Jim Webb 2016 and Tulsi G. last time...

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Sima's picture

But why not? I am a bit too young to have been in line for the draft during Vietnam. I was born in '62. But my generation still had to sign up, just in case.
I became aware of the draft when a marine visited me at my new apartment, shortly after I graduated from college ('84). My real first name is always, always, confused for a male name. Always. So, the powers that be thought I was male. And they sent a marine to find out why I hadn't signed up for the draft. I opened the door. Tall uniformed guy standing there. He asked for me, I respond, 'Yea?' and he gets a shocked look.
'You're Rick?' (That's how my name is mispronounced all the time, not how it's spelled.)
'Yep'. I showed him my driver's license.
He now had a sheepish look and kindly explained why he was there. I told him I thought he should sign me up anyway, because if men have to serve, women should too, although in reality I thought no-one should have to serve. He told me he appreciated the sentiment, but he'd get in trouble if he signed me up.

I became politically aware right around then too. I am/was a punk/goth. One of the first generation. I listen(ed) to music from Britain all the time. I went to England for Graduate school, and most of my friends in America, and my family, warned me to beware of those 'socialists and commies' from over there in bloody Britain and horrible Europe. So I went to England and Europe. My friends and family were right, dammit. I came back from Europe a lefty, a socialist, and so I remain.

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so