Skip to main content

Seventy-seven Days and Counting

 Earth Date:  August 17, 2020

When the Vietnam War was at its worst in the 1960’s and early 70’s, the military draft was still in effect and thirty-five thousand young men between the ages of 18 through 25 were called up each month to serve in the US military. It was law and to defy that law meant federal imprisonment.  

There were several ways a young man could circumvent the system. They could opt for a deferment. After high school, they could continue on to college or get married. Either option was a deferment. It kept them on the rolls but they would not be called to serve unless under dire conditions.

My older brother was one year ahead of me in high school, so I saw what happened to young males as they reached eighteen years of age. They were required by federal law to sign up with the Selective Service. Because he was a junior in high school, my brother could not be drafted until after he graduated, but if he signed up for college immediately, carried a full load of classes, and stayed in good standing, his deferment extended for an additional four years. Marriage was out of the question for him so my parents encouraged him to sign up for college. Maybe by then, the war or the draft would be history.   

If my brother chose not to go to college, he could enlist on his own and thereby choose which branch of the service he wanted to join. If he waited, hoping that the lottery (yes, a lottery based on birthdays) would not choose him, the chances were high he would get drafted and the military would assign him to the branch of service where they needed him. Back then the National Guard did not deploy its soldiers outside the states, and everyone knew that the Air Force and the Navy had far less casualties because their men did not fight on the ground, so it was no surprise that their enlistment quota filled up quickly. There was little doubt if my brother waited to be drafted, he would end up in the Army or the Marines.  

Parents with money or connections could ask the family doctor or a Congressman for favors and their sons either got out of being drafted or were stationed to safer zones. A desk job in the states or a stint in Hawaii. Our family had a little to keep my brother safe. Young men like my brother had little options.  

My brother went to college after high school, but he majored in girls his freshman year instead of business administration, so while he sat out a year on academic probation, he got his draft letter. He was told when and where to show up for his induction. He and the others were given physical and mental tests. Their backgrounds were checked for any criminal or violent records, and a few cited religious objections to the war. Their claim was not taken kindly and were assigned to “nonviolent” positions that were often demeaning and punitive. Warrants were issued for those who did not show up for their physicals, but many of those “constitutionally” objected to the draft and had other plans. Some preferred federal prison, while others abandoned their citizenship and sought asylum in Canada.

My older brother passed his “physical,” and he came home that evening an Army recruit.  A few months later he spent his twenty-first birthday in Vietnam. He served two years in the Army and came home the year he would have been a senior in college. It was that same year the government made the last call for draftees needed for Vietnam. Had he stayed in school, his education would have been very different.


Popular posts from this blog

Happy Breastday to Me!

I gave myself a very special birthday present this year – I had surgery. Before you think it was to increase, decrease, or “lift” something, let me tell you it was not cosmetic (though I could probably use a few nips and tucks at my age; the infinite number of creams I buy OTC are not working their promised magic). About four or five months ago, I discovered a hard lump about the size of a large marble in my left armpit.  I had been feeling small pangs of pain in my left chest for several months, but I figured it was just my turn to dance with heart disease.  Everyone in my immediate family is diabetic and suffers from strokes or heart attacks, so I thought – here we go; my turn. I was going to tell my internist about the pangs during my next visit, so imagine my surprise when I discovered the lump. The Drama Queen in me immediately manifested herself – cancer, I thought.  I have cancer. I searched some more and found that the texture on the left side of my left breast felt diffe

Dating Challenged

I stink at dating – always have.   I sputter.   I hyperventilate.   I fail miserably every time. I blame a pathetically underdeveloped gene that got little use before I married in my early twenties, then atrophied, gathering dust and rust, until I became single again in my fifties.   I decided to use this defect to my advantage when I needed to do some investigative reporting a few years back.   While on a newspaper writing assignment on Boomer-aged dating, I sacrificed my dignity and my vanity for the sake of the story (and I got several). Thank goodness, HoneyBunch saved me from all this when we married.  (He comes up with the best dates.) I’ve decided I will “show you mine if you show me yours.”   I will swap dating horror stories with you, but you have to promise to play along. The trick here is to tell about your worst date in 25 words or less.   You must keep it clean and you cannot name names. Our little contest will run only this week and before my next blogger posting.   Me

Grandma’s Dining Table

Twenty five years ago my first husband and I bought a new home with four bedrooms and three baths, but my favorite part of the house was the enormous room you walked into from the front door. It had no dividing wall but the design was to use half of it as a formal living and the other half as a formal dining. From the beginning I decided to make it into one huge dining room that would catch the eye when everyone walked in through the front door of my home.   My three children were very young, but I envisioned them grown and married. We counted five at the time, but one day we would grow to eight, maybe more if we factored in grandchildren, so I bought a table that sat a family of twelve.  My husband thought it silly to look that far ahead and convinced me to buy only ten chairs. The room looked magnificent – the long, majestic table, the ten chairs, the buffet, a couple of real ficus, and a few other nice pieces of furniture – I was pleased. The table lasted longer than t