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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

Brother fled to Canada; broke my fathers heart; I married Vietnam vet with PSTD; horrifying abuse; did not understand; thank you for the parrot story. ❤️

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I turn 70 in August. This means that I was in the second draft lottery for those born in 1952. I remember the first lottery that you describe as being for 1951 and all the years before as an attempt at an equitable draft. My lottery number, announced as 365, was important as I was in summer school (I needed to help my very poor first year GPA at Boston University). Odd as it may seem, my number wasn’t the highest as 1952 was a leap year. High school classmates born on just either side of my birthday had low numbers that might place them in the military. I discovered, as time went on and I found myself and my purpose (age 33 - entered seminary and became a Priest of the Episcopal Church), that gratitude at missing military service via the draft clashed with my awareness of what it means to live and serve in community. There is a longer story here, but on the day I was ordained priest in December 1989 I received my endorsement to serve as a Chaplain in the United States Army Reserve. Three months later I was commissioned and served just over six years. That service, and the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States sustains me today as I remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion to make possible something my 19 year old self could not see when faced with the trauma of the draft: “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth” (with deep thanks to President Abraham Lincoln for his simple yet profound speech at Gettysburg November 19, 1963).

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My two older brothers both enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school. Strange times these were. I remember our family all lining up if the phone rang and the operator said “…calling collect. Will you accept the charges?” One brother went to Vietnam and the other was stationed in Philippines Both brothers came home but were changed. Not the innocent young men that started that service tour.

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founding
Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I was born in 1954 and had spent my youth watching nightly news with pictures of body bags inVietnam every night. My year was a year when draft numbers were assigned but they never called anyone into service. My number was in the low 300s and my mother cried.

Many people remember the Vietnam war protests and the campus demonstrations but few remember that the protests stopped when the draft ended not when the war ended.

If you ever want to find out if a man is around 70 or older but you don’t want to ask him directly ask him the following question:

“What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word ‘lottery’?”

If they are70 or older they say “ the draft” not “ lotto” or the NBA!

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Even though I was born two years later I still remember registering for my draft card and receiving it in the mail. The war ended before I was potentially drafted but I knew people who were, some that never made it home and others that never returned the same.

Sadly, we are as much a tribal society today as we were 100,000 years ago. Warlords start conflicts and confrontational language permeates politics and even religion. We simply have larger and more sophisticated sticks and stones. Moreover, social media, as the newest shiny weapon, has allowed the tribes to gather over larger territories and in different ways.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

Excellent column today, Bill. I will be 72 in a month, so I fit the demographic of your column. I was very conflicted about the war, for reasons I'll explain. I was freshman at the University of WI, Madison in Sept, 1968 on a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship. My Dad was a career Army officer who served in Okinawa in WWII as a grunt (a "Private E-Nothing", as he later described his rank. Then like many vets, was discharged, got married, and went to college on the GI Bill (UW-Madison). He got his Regular Army commission as a 2LT through ROTC and served in the Korean War and later in Viet Nam during the Tet Offensive in 1968, one of the most "active" times of the war. He retired from the Army after 26 years on active duty, retiring as a COL. He also worked for a few large companies before fully retiring about 10 years later.

Back to my feelings of confliction. War protests were full bore at Madison, with "rallies" all around the campus and 1,000's of students protesting. Many classes were cancelled. I watched from the fringes. 'Uncle Sam" was paying for my education, I was going to have a 4-year active duty commitment after graduating, AND Dad was serving in Vietnam. I could not in good faith protest the war, but didn't think we should be there.

The Army ROTC building where classes was held was in a Quansut-type building away from most of the academic buildings and protestors damaged the windows and spray-painted the building. There were days I had to wear a uniform to ROTC class and later on drill teams, etc. but I was largely left alone, maybe because I walked on a less crowded, alternate (longer) route on days I had an ROTC class and was 6'1", 200 lbs and very fit. I also did not schedule any class immediately following my ROTC class so I could change back to jeans. I was not looking for a conflict. As a freshman eating breakfast in the dorm "dining facility", some students got up from the table I was sitting at and sat elsewhere. A small thing.

I remember going to a favorite beer bar near campus called the KK (still there!) the night of the first draft lottery. My first 4 years after graduation were pre-planned (4-years active duty, 2 Reserve commitment), but I still wanted to be involved in what was going on with the draft. The place was packed. A guy who whose birthday must have been July 7th had a large sandwich-board sign on that said "I'm number one and I'm f'd". Everyone was buying him beer. It was a tumultuous time for most. After graduation, I went to Army Airborne and Ranger School, served my commitment and then worked 35+ years as a HR professional, including owning my own consultant business for the final 15 years. I retired in 2019 and now live in SC.

Thanks again for your perspective and reminder of the date. Apologies for the deep dive.

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Thanks for sharing

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I appreciate your feedback. Everyone has a life story. It helps to have someone "prime the pump" with a thoughtful question.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

Thank you for such a fitting example of the reality that, while yes there's personal efforts and investments, a big part of life's story is just random luck of the draw... People play the cards they're dealt. Democracy gives you a chance to win big.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I was 13yo. I wore a POW bracelet until my soldier came home. When I sent it to him in NJ, he wrote me a long letter of gratitude for my hope. There was a lot nobody could explain to my satisfaction except “Communism was bad. Really bad.” So why are all these people hating on the soldiers coming home? I thought that was was idiotic. But that bracelet was doing my part to support SOLDIERS. My Mom grew up during WW II so I wanted to be like her. But she had a lot more company than I did. I still wonder how people came to spit on returning soldiers who were forced to go by their own government and then tossed aside when they got home. It still makes me so, so sad.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I knew a couple young men who were drafted. Through the years, I've known many who served in Nam. One of the lasting tragedies is how they were treated upon return. Many (if not most) changed clothes, wore a hat in when out in public to avoid abuse by we Americans. I have learned of coworkers within the last decade who had served that that time, whom I thanked for their service. Two of them teared up ... noting that they had never been thanked for their service before. I want them ALL to know that I so much appreciate their sacrifice for our country, whether it is draft or volunteer is irrelevant. Thank you ALL - Thank you !

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I remember the Vietnam lottery. My brother’s birthday came up as #61. My whole family watched the lottery.

When his number came up, he turned to us and lamented “I’m going to Vietnam”. It was a very sad day for all of us, very upsetting.

Fortunately he was in college. And by the time he graduated, the war was over.

Just fyi, us baby boomers also had it hard because when we graduated, there were never enough jobs for all of us. We were such a big bulge in population no matter our age. Graduation time and after was always clouded by the great difficulty in getting a job. We did not have it easy.

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That's a good point. My dad, who graduated from college in '71 (I think?) had a degree in mechanical engineering and wound up pumping gas for a time in Austin because there were no jobs. He says that he had a low draft number as well, and even though the draft had run out at the time, it put people off hiring him. My parents wound up moving to Dallas, so my dad could get work. Not a huge hardship, especially in retrospect, but different from the job market I've faced all of my adult life.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

The War impacted me over the years. As a Canadian I had more than a few draft dodger friends. My family was all set to immigrate to USA in 1966 when my Dads company left Montreal. Then came the immigration interview at US consulate. I was 14 and the agent wanted to know if I had STDs. Had to ask Mom in the waiting room. My Mom was Australian by birth. Agent informed us that we would be subject to draft due to some agreement between USA and Australia. So that meant my 17 year old brother would be A1A almost immediately. That ended our moving to America.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I was born in 1950 and remember the fear of my friends going to Vietnam well. My brothers managed to get into the National Guard but still had to go through basic training. But the others I knew ended up in Vietnam. One man I dated was at the MyLai Massacre. That event was burned in his brain because it went against every aspect of his being. His job was to photograph it. We went to a movie one night about a War and he came out shaking. It was several hours before I’d let him drive home. During that time he told me about being in Vietnam and wondering why we were against a people who wanted to be independent, the “trade route” explanation seemed to be a ruse and the soldiers didn’t know who was on their side. His experiences when he came home were horrifying. OMG! But I didn’t know anyone not touched by the war.

So this reminds me of a StarTrek NG episode where a planet wanted to join the Federation until the Enterprise crew found out that their war veterans were banned to the moon so the population wouldn’t have to deal with their dysfunction after the wars. Picard told the planet they had to reintegrate the vets before the Federation would consider accepting them. Roddenberry got it right that time too. Also watch “The Best Years of our Lives” about returning WWII vets.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

My draft number, based on my birthday, was #17. It was 1972, and I was a freshman at the University of Georgia. "They" (whoever 'they' was) had proclaimed that the Top 31 selection dates would be drafted.

I had been an athlete in high school, and had walked on as practice fodder at UGA for football. As freshmen, all football players were required to take ROTC (either Army or Air Force), as being included would defer one for four years of college before reporting to the service. I chose Army ROTC.

Midway through my freshman year, I received notification to travel to Atlanta for a physical. I boarded a bus from our Post Office to take the one-hour drive to AAFES center. We were checked, poked and prodded, and peered at for a good 2 hours. One after another, lined up, we all went through the drill.

At the end of everything, whoever was in charged presented a question to us all - "Does anyone have anything that may keep them from being called to service?" A couple hands were raised. "What?" whoever it was, asked. "I have bad knees." "I have a bad shoulder." "I have flat feet." (Never figured why that was so bad - then again, I don't have flat feet.) I had suffered a knee injury during my high school football days, so I raised my hand, too. "Fine", whoever it was said. You'll return in two weeks for further examinations.

Returning two weeks later, I was twisted, pulled, pushed and thoroughly examined by, I presume, an orthopedist. At the end of the exam, he looked at me and proclaimed, "I'm sorry, but you are disqualified." My parents were relieved; my girlfriend overjoyed; I had mixed feelings.

I continued my Army ROTC classes through the end of the quarter. I had enjoyed my time - I had received some accolades through the year, including some 'merits' (as opposed to demerits). But I dropped ROTC after that quarter. I dropped football, too.

I was "gone". I had friends who "'went". A few didn't return. Most did. Looking back, my feelings are still mixed. The Army would have helped me grow. I feel a pang of guilt at being labeled "4-F". It was a sign of cowardice at the time - at least in my hometown.

Every generation has its challenges. None more than others. The greatest; Boomers; Gen-X, Z and millennials, whatever. Nobody gets off life easy. But it's what you make of the rest of it that matters.

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Tommy, don't feel any guilt over being deferred. It was the Dr's learned opinion that you had a disqualifying injury. Please forgive yourself. Dan

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

Gen Xer here! I was a little confused about how the draft worked from your description and found this article really helpful: (sharing in case anyone else is like me): https://www.sss.gov/history-and-records/vietnam-lotteries/

Also, so many things to ponder with respect to our personal freedoms and chaos. How does the chaos and disruption of COVID, for example, compare to the chaos and disruption of a generation living with the uncertainty and consequences of the draft?

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I truly hope we never have another draft, I think that was terrible and I never want it to happen again. The thing about the generational divide here though is that I don't believe boomers have that sympathy for the millennial struggle. We can't afford homes or babies or pay off our student loans and instead of trying to help, they blame it on us. They created the systems that increased tuition and housing costs while we were still literal children, reaped the benefits, left nothing for us, and have no desire to ease our burden. Just doesn't seem fair in any world.

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I grew up poor in the early 70s. Always worked washing cars, shoveling snow…anything for a buck from when I was 11. Bagged groceries for tips on base when I was 14. Painted water sun stations when I was 15. Began working retail when I was 16. Had to pay for college and worked in the kitchen serving students who’s parents paid for their college. Had to struggle for decent work. Got married at 19 (and still married to the same great lady). Been through several recessions. Built my first home myself (secured financing at 9%, secured a construction loan) while also working as an electrical contractor and doing PT work on the side. My wife was 8 months pregnant when we were both painting the outside. No one eased my burden but myself. Nothing was fair, it was just the way it was. At 55 we adopted our granddaughter who was then 4.

Now, after we have struggled and overcome I was able to retire at 62 and still wait for full retirement this year at 66+4 months. But now, with a kid still in high school, we have to live like other “parents” and only go places when school is out. We can’t live like normal retirees and travel because we have a daughter at home who doesn’t like what we like so we will wait 3 more years to do the things we would prefer to do as “normal” retirees.

Here’s my point Ms. Millennial: life is a struggle, get over it. I could sit around blaming everyone else for what I face/d but there is no point in whining. If I did that in the 70s I would still be working today at a job I hate just to survive, probably divorced and assuming I hadn’t already died of a heart attack. I (we) figured it out and grew along the way as a result. I didn’t blame others for not helping. We eased our own burden. Nothing is fair unless you make it fair for yourself.

I feel fortunate I was able to recognize and figure things out along the way. I listened, looked around, read and asked opinions. Tried things and failed. Tried other things and succeeded. I also feel fortunate I was born in a country that is better than most. You should be as well.

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Thank you for illustrating my "no empathy" point exactly. I'm talking about systemic problems, not individual struggles. I'm sorry for your individual struggles, but my point about the generational advantage people your age had. There's no reality where a kid now can pay for their college by working in a kitchen. It's just not possible, and that's my point. The game has changed dramatically and boomers don't understand that at all and don't care to.

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You assume I am unique? Sorry you feel that way.

Each generation has their own struggles. My parents grew up with WWII. My grandparents grew up with the depression; try paying for college then. This was before SS, medicate, Medicaid and unemployment.

Some people simply shouldn’t go to college. Mine was wasted as I did nothing in life college actually taught me. And i didn’t just work in the kitchen - i had other jobs and lived in what you would likely call a rathole.

Millennials grew up with parents that “had” things and expect to live the same way. I guess the difference is that my parents had nothing so I started from zero.

Anyway, you can complain and blame or you can get up and figure it out. It may not be fair but i could have said the same thing when I was young. But then, no one would listen.

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Harvard ‘03-‘07? Who paid for that education? Methinks you doth protest too much.

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Did you look me up so you could make a personal attack? You don't know anything about my personal circumstances and it is completely irrelevant because I'm taking about systemic differences through generations. We don't need to personally compare hardships to have an intelligent discussion about how times have changed for generations of people.

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You said “… I don't believe boomers have that sympathy for the millennial struggle. We can't afford homes or babies or pay off our student loans and instead of trying to help, they blame it on us.”

The use of “we” and “us” makes an implication that you have been personally wronged. Were you? Are you willing to answer my simple, original question?

I presented publicly available facts found in a 15 second google search and will not take responsibility for your feelings of being attacked; that was clearly not my intent. In fact, it was you who launched an attack on all boomers in general. At least I took the time to learn more about you, in part to conjure some of the empathy you seek. And now you further attack me by insinuating I am unable to have an intelligent discussion. Sigh.

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I have to disagree about the draft. I think it should be reinstated for males and females, with the option of a non-military national service component. Two to four years of some service before you can go to college. We need to know each other to build a society that cares for each other. When the abolition of the draft we got the situation where people have consecutive tours in war zones with all the problems that creates for them and for society. We now have a country where only 3 million are Veterans, and the vast majority of citizens have no concept of what that service means.

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That is something I could get on board with. Two years of public service or four military. I see that as very different that a draft for the specific purpose of war. And no ability to get out for medical reasons because public service would mitigate that issue.

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You might find this book interesting. It is a followup on the author’s 2008 book and addresses much of what you presented in a manner that looks at the past to the present.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Dumbest-Generation-Grows-Up/Mark-Bauerlein/9781684512201

Bauerlein has taught at Emory University since 1989. Between 2003 and 2005, he worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, serving as the director of the Office of Research and Analysis. While there, Bauerlein contributed to an NEA study, "Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America"

Bauerlein explains how his experience as a teacher led to his writing of The Dumbest Generation:

“Because in my limited experience as a teacher, I’ve noticed in the last 10 years that students are no less intelligent, no less ambitious but there are two big differences: Reading habits have slipped, along with general knowledge. You can quote me on this: You guys don’t know anything.”

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Every time the US Government has enacted any major change in society there has been some kind of cutoff date. It's just the way things work. Them's the breaks. Get over it already.

Jeez, if some of you had your way we wouldn't have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other recent government programs. We'd still have a military draft.

Somebody has to be last and somebody has to be first. Sorry, not sorry, if tuition debt relief gets your panties in a wad. For a lot of people this would be a very great thing. Keep your grumbling to yourself and be happy, (Okay, pretend to be happy.) for the ones whose life will be changed forever.

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Except taxes. Were you aware we still pay a tax on telephone bills that was originally implemented to help pay for the Spanish American War?

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Yup. The Feebs have never seen a tax they didn't love that goes straight to the Pentagon. You'll always get bipartisan support for something like this.

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Jul 7, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

I was lucky/fortunate to have been born in 1956, however as another commenter stated, we watched the evening news and gasped about the carnage and horrors of the Vietnam war. The draft was hanging over our heads, and it still scared the #### out of me and many of my friends. Even though the draft had been discontinued, the day after I graduated from high school (1974) the instructions from my Dad were to get to the post office to register, even though I was going to college in September. My number was a tall one, but still. Very unsettling, that the govt. could reinstate the draft if the world went crazy was in the back of our minds.

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