Memorial Day- Vietnam Draft Lottery
On December 1, 1969, the first Vietnam draft letter was held. An estimated 850,000 young men between the ages of 19 and 26 would be randomly selected by their birthdays. A giant glass jar contained 366 capsules (every day of the year plus Leap Day). A representative from the Armed Services Committee pulled each capsule out and that random drawing determined the draft order. If the first capsule pulled had your birthday on it, you were first in line to go to Vietnam.
I’m struck by the method. It's so simple but it has such lasting consequences. Draftees accounted for 30% of combat deaths and they were selected by their birthday. The day that they had celebrated their entire lives with cake and candles was now the determining factor for when they went to war. The first date pulled was September 14. My birthday is March 30 and was pulled number 217. I would have been relatively safe.
The link below will take you to a recreation of the Draft Lottery. Enter your birthday and see when you would have been called. I’d love for you to look it up and share the results. Think about what impacts that random selection could have meant for your life. And then remember and honor those that were called. 1/3 of them did not make it home.