T-Squared Energy Connections[i]
December 2, 1969 – The Lottery
Gladys and Jerry read the sign on the door as they walked into Table for Two.
Free Lunch for Lottery Numbers 1 to 195
Sitting outside, enjoying coffee and bagels, they discussed how the draft lottery might affect family, friends, neighbors and Hartsburg.
“I’m so glad I am not eligible for the draft lottery. It was close. Another year younger and my number would be 180.”
“I’m not sure who is happier, you or me,” Gladys reached across the table for Jerry’s hand. “Why a lottery, Jerry?”
“Before the lottery, any man between eighteen and 25 could be called to the local draft board for evaluation and assigned a status. Community members make up draft boards. Pressure from relatives and friends often influences who is exempted and who is not. Turns out very few recruits come from wealthy families. As a matter of fact, I read the mix is twenty-five percent poor, fifty-five percent working-class and twenty percent middle-class men. Many come from rural towns and farming communities like Hartsburg. A lottery is supposed to be more fair, or at least more random.”
In response to criticism of the draft’s inequities, on December 1, 1969, the Selective Service System conducted two lottery drawings – the first draft lottery since 1942, to determine the order in which men born in 1944 to 1950 were called to report for possible induction into the military in 1970.
The draft lottery was based on birth dates. Three-hundred sixty-six blue plastic capsules containing birth dates (including February 29) were drawn by hand, opened one by one and assigned a number from “001” until “366”. The first date drawn was September 14 followed by April 24, which were assigned “001” and “002” respectively. The process continued until each day of the year was assigned a lottery number. The lower the number, the higher probability men of being called to serve.
A second lottery was held with 26 letters of the alphabet to determine the order of selection among men with the same birth dates through the ranks of the first letters of their last, first and middle names. “J”, “G” and “D” were the first 3 letters while “E”, “B” and “V” was the last ones drawn, which meant men with initials “JJJ” would be first, followed by “JGJ” and “JDJ” while “VVV” would be last among those shared the same birth date. Eventually all men with number 195 or lower were called in order of their numbers to report for physical examinations in 1970.
The biggest change in this draft was the age priority. Instead of taking the “oldest men first” from the 18-25 eligible range as last time, local boards now could call 19-year-olds first. Therefore, young men now did not have to wait for years to learn their draft futures, which could affect their careers, marriages and family.
“What about our friends, Jerry?”
“Stuart Gibson will receive a deferral as a student at the University of Michigan.”
Tom Savino says he’ll serve if called.”
“Jimmy Kelly applied for conscientious objector status. He wrote an essay to the county draft board and has an interview scheduled next week. I hope it goes well for him. Such a gentle soul, Jimmy has a hard time selling the family beef cattle for slaughter. It’s hard to imagine him face to face with the enemy.”
“How difficult is it to be classified conscientious objector?”
“Not that easy.”
A conscientious objector is someone opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles There are two types. One is opposed to serving in combat. They would be drafted and assigned to military service not involving combat or weaponry.
The second type is morally opposed to serving the military in any capacity. In the past, they were sentenced to two years in prison. Draft boards can assign them to the alternative service program, run by the Selective Service System. They work for two years with local employers in fields that contribute to the nation’s well-being such as health care, public service, education and conservation.
“Scary times to be nineteen. Young men, boys really, asked to participate in the invasion of another country no one wants to call a war? Would you serve in the military, Jerry?”
“I don’t know, Gladys. I suspect I would. Fortunately, we don’t have to face that question. I respect Jimmy for standing up for his beliefs. We’ll have to support him just as we support those who serve. It won’t be easy around here for him. Not everyone will understand.”
Twin brothers Dean and Dylan parked their matching red Honda Dream CB750 FOUR motorcycles outside Table for Two.
“Your sign says, free lunch for lottery numbers 195 and under. I’m Dean, this is my brother Dylan. Our number is ninety-seven.”
“Welcome Dean and Dylan. I’m Carol, Manager of Table for Two. Beautiful bikes, where are you headed?”
“We’re working our way across the country before we enlist in the Air Force. There is so much to see. We want to experience all we can so we’ll know what we are fighting for.”
“Would you be thinking of enlisting if your number was 360?”
“Probably not. Our number is so low. If we must serve, we prefer the branch of the military be our choice.”
“That makes sense. What would you like for lunch?”
“A number nine, a number seven, two sodas, chips and two chocolate chip cookies.”
“Would you both sign the ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’ poster?” Carol pointed to the wall behind them.
Dean and Dylan sat outside eating their lunch. Carol came out with a “to-go” bag.
“Here are some treats for later. If you pass this way again, stop in and give us an update.”
“If what’s in this bag is as good as the cookies, we just won the lottery.”
[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.