i n s p i r a t i o n
“Good luck, tonight” was a phrase the young men of America, aged 19 to 26, would hear over and over on the afternoon of December 1 st , 1969 – for that evening the U.S. Selective Service would conduct a lottery to determine the order these youngsters would be called to serve their country.
The ceremony was broadcast live over the CBS radio and television network. The first birth date drawn, September 14th was officially declared 001. From there, 365 more dates were drawn – ending with June the 8th. During and after the lottery, America’s eligible men would engage in a series of deferment and exemption strategies including self-inflicted wounds, marriages of convenience, unwanted children and a myriad of other techniques to make one medically or socially unfit for war.
On the 40th anniversary of the 1969 draft lottery, I heard journalist Robin Young interview author Denis O’Neil about what he and his fraternity brothers experienced that night on the campus of Dartmouth College. Forty years later, O’Neil’s memories remained sharp as ever. As I hung on his every word, I become more mesmerized, all the time thinking, “This story belongs on the stage.”