Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who Put All Those Things In Your Head?

Choosing the color red for the large capsules used in the Draft Lottery of 1972 was poetically apropos, I think, with blood still being shed in that mad adventure called Vietnam. The 366 capsules, each containing a different day of the year, plus Leap Year, were drawn one at a time from a clear glass or plastic cylinder in February of 1972. It would be the men whose birthdays were drawn one through six or seven who would actually be drafted. In 1973 there were 646 men inducted into the Armed Services as a result of the lottery. I was one of them. My birthdate had been chosen fifth.

I wasn't going to Vietnam -- so I joined the Navy for a four-year hitch, choosing radio and television as my specialty, believing I could use these skills as a civilian journalist after being discharged. I didn't like it, but I didn't fight it. I welcomed the guaranteed income, which would be more than sufficient to marry and support my high school sweetheart. But I got orders to East Africa, Ethiopia ... and I didn't see her for three years.