Vietnam Draft Lottery Project:
This project is an outgrowth of interviews conducted last year with Baby Boomers, entitled I Used to Think, and Now I Think, having them reflect more than 40 years later on their lives and values learned as they were growing up and coming of age in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In almost every interview, these baby boomers recalled quite vividly the Vietnam War era and in particular the Vietnam draft lottery. They were either awaiting their own number being called or their friends and loved ones. The potential of being drafted, going to war, and possibly losing your life weighed heavily. They all remember grappling with if there could be a way out through deferment or other means.
This reaction to the draft was in some ways emblematic of a decade of unrest with a whole generation coming of age in the 1960's: they questioned authority, seeking new paths and challenging normal convention. Vietnam was an unpopular war as evidenced by draft card burnings, demonstrations, campus take-overs, and marching in the streets. Nevertheless, the U.S. government proceeded to continue to build its military presence. In need of more boots on the ground to fight an increasingly difficult war, Congress instituted a lottery draft in 1969. And suddenly, your birthdate could be your call to serve. Every eligible male aged 19-to-26 had a stake in this lottery.
I thought it would be interesting to seek out draft lottery stories from narrators recalling that time as young men awaiting their number, awaiting their fate!
Steve Fuchs is a first year part-time student in the OHMA program. He currently is the C.E.O. of True North, Inc., an independent digital advertising agency in NYC and San Francisco. He is very excited about returning to school after thirty-eight years in the workforce.
His parents and family emigrated from Cuba in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, just as the political landscape was changing and he grew up hearing many stories about life before and after Castro took power—oral histories from family members who experienced historic changes in real time. Perhaps this is where his interest in oral history began.
Steve graduated from Syracuse University in 1979 and currently serves on the Board of Advisors to the S.I Newhouse School of Communications.