It’s Presidents’ Day February 21, 2022. For KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: Tell us about a moment with a president.
There must have been 20 of us gathered around a black and white TV on the first floor at my Irish Hall dorm at Arizona State University in early December 1969. My buddies, Gale, Steve, Rich, and I were watching and waiting for our birthdays to appear on the screen.
You see the selective service was holding a lottery to draft males 18 and over to fight in the war in Southeast Asia. A war supported by both Democratic and Republican Presidents.
Though at the time I was an elementary education major, I had been an apolitical political science major before that. Southeast Asia was so far away. My focus was elsewhere. I played on the tennis team. I was dating and not dating my fetching girlfriend. I had a student deferment, but now as a senior at ASU, that deferment was coming to an end. I was ripe for the plucking.
Stuffed shirts in suits and ties from Selective Service selected September 14 first. That meant that everyone born on that date from 1944 to 1950 would be the first to go to war. For that draft, the first 195 birthdates selected would be eligible to be drafted in 1970. All I had to do was not be in the first 195.
More birthdates were announced. I wasn’t in the first twenty-five or the even first fifty. And then I was hit with a barrage of bricks. My birthday, December 27, was selected #78. I had lost the biggest lottery of my life.
Or had I?
You see, that moment helped me clarify what was important. What direction my life would head.
And I wasn’t going to war.
Words – 269