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On December 1, 1969, the Selective Service System of the United States conducted two lotteries to determine the order of call to military service in the Vietnam War for men born from January 1, 1944 to December 31, 1950. These lotteries occurred during a period of conscription in the United States that lasted from 1947 to 1973. It was the first time a lottery system had been used to select men for military service since 1942.
The lottery of 1969 was conceived to address perceived inequities in the draft system as it existed previously, and to add more military personnel towards the Vietnam War. The war had arisen from a series of conflicts dating back to the early stages of French colonialism and Japanese occupation of Vietnam in World War II. In 1963, South Vietnamese generals seized power in Saigon in a coup. President Lyndon B. Johnson increased the number of U.S. personnel in South Vietnam due to the political instability in the country. More active US involvement in the war began in August 1964, when two U.S. warships were alleged to have been attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Johnson condemned North Vietnam, and Congress passed a motion which gave him more authority over military decisions. By the end of 1965, President Johnson had sent 82,000 troops to Vietnam, and his military advisors wanted another 175,000. Due to the heavy demand for military personnel, the United States increased the number of men the draft provided each month.
In the 1960s anti-war movements started to occur in the U.S., mainly among students on college campuses and in more leftist circles, especially those who embraced the "hippie" lifestyle. College students were entitled to a deferment (2-S status) but were subject to the draft if they dropped out, stopped making "normal progress" in community college (i.e., started a fifth semester before transferring to a four-year college) or graduated.In 1967, the number of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam was around 500,000. The war was costing the U.S. $25 billion a year, and many of the young men drafted were being sent to a war they wanted no part of. Martin Luther King Jr. also started to support the anti-war movement, believing the war to be immoral and expressing alarm at the number of African-American soldiers that were being killed.
November 15, 1969 marked the largest anti-war protest in the history of the United States. It featured many anti-war political speakers and popular singers of the time. Many critics at the time saw Richard Nixon as a liar; when he took office, he claimed that he would begin to withdraw American troops from Vietnam. After ten months of being in office, the president had yet to start withdrawals, and U.S. citizens felt he had lied. Later, President Nixon claimed to have been watching sports as the anti-war demonstration took place outside the White House.
After much debate within the Nixon administration and Congress, Congress decided that a gradual transition to an all-volunteer force was affordable, feasible, and would enhance the nation's security. On November 26, 1969, Congress abolished a provision in the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 which prevented the president from modifying the selection procedure ("... the President in establishing the order of induction for registrants within the various age groups found qualified for induction shall not effect any change in the method of determining the relative order of induction for such registrants within such age groups as has been heretofore established ..."), and President Richard Nixon issued an executive order prescribing a process of random selection.
The 366 days of the year (including February 29) were printed on slips of paper. These pieces of paper were then each placed in opaque plastic capsules, which were then mixed in a shoebox and then dumped into a deep glass jar. Capsules were drawn from the jar one at a time and opened.
The first number drawn was 258 (September 14), so all registrants with that birthday were assigned lottery number 1. The second number drawn corresponded to April 24, and so forth. All men of draft age (born January 1, 1944 to December 31, 1950) who shared a birth date would be called to serve at once. The first 195 birthdates drawn were later called to serve in the order they were drawn; the last of these was September 24.
Also on December 1, 1969, a second lottery, identical in process to the first, was held with the 26 letters of the alphabet. The first letter drawn was "J", which was assigned number 1. The second letter was "G", and so on, until all 26 letters were assigned numbers. Among men with the same birthdate, the order of induction was determined by the ranks of the first letters of their last, first, and middle names.Anyone with initials "JJJ" would have been first within the shared birthdate, followed by "JGJ", "JDJ", and "JXJ"; anyone with initials "VVV" would have been last.
A random procedure will not distribute the lottery numbers uniformly over the months of the year, but this was what some people expected. It happened that November and December births, or numbers 306 to 366, were assigned mainly to lower draft order numbers representing earlier calls to serve. This led to complaints that the lottery was not truly random as the legislation required. Only five days in December—December 2, 12, 15, 17, and 19—were higher than the last call number of 195. Had the days been evenly distributed, 14 days in December would have been expected to remain uncalled. From January to December, the rank of the average draft pick numbers were 5, 4, 1, 3, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 7, 11, and 12. A Monte Carlo simulation found that the probability of a random order of months being this close to the 1–12 sequence expected for unsorted slips was 0.09%.An analysis of the procedure suggested that "The capsules were put in a box month by month, January through December, and subsequent mixing efforts were insufficient to overcome this sequencing".
The draft lottery had social and economic consequences because it generated further resistance to military service. Those who resisted were generally young, well-educated, healthy men. Reluctance to serve in Vietnam led many young men to try to join the National Guard, aware that the National Guard would be unlikely to send soldiers to Vietnam. Many men were unable to join the National Guard even though they had passed their physicals, because many state National Guards had long waiting lists to enlist. Still other men chose legal sanctions such as imprisonment, showing their disapproval by illegally burning their draft cards or draft letters, or simply not presenting themselves for military service. Others left the country, commonly moving to Canada.
The 1960s were a time of turmoil in the United States, beginning with the civil rights movement which set the standards for practices by the anti-war movement. The 1969 draft lottery only encouraged resentment of the Vietnam War and the draft. It strengthened the anti-war movement,and all over the United States, people decried discrimination by the draft system "against low-education, low-income, underprivileged members of society". The lottery procedure was improved the next year although public discontent continued to grow.
For the draft lottery held on July 1, 1970 (which covered 1951 birthdates for use during 1971, and is sometimes called the 1971 draft), scientists at the National Bureau of Standards prepared 78 random permutations of the numbers 1 to 366 using random numbers selected from published tables.From the 78 permutations, 25 were selected at random and transcribed to calendars using 1 = January 1, 2 = January 2, ... 365 = December 31. Those calendars were sealed in envelopes. Twenty-five more permutations were selected and sealed in 25 more envelopes without transcription to calendars. The two sets of 25 envelopes were furnished to the Selective Service System.
On June 2, an official picked two envelopes, thus one calendar and one raw permutation. The 365 birthdates (for 1951) were written down, placed in capsules, and put in a drum in the order dictated by the selected calendar. Similarly, the numbers from 1 to 365 were written down and placed into capsules in the order dictated by the raw permutation.
On July 1, the drawing date, one drum was rotated for an hour and the other for a half-hour (its rotating mechanism failed).Pairs of capsules were then drawn, one from each drum, one with a 1951 birthdate and one with a number 1 to 366. The first date and number drawn were September 16 and 139, so all men born September 16, 1951, were assigned draft number 139. The 11th draws were the date July 9 and the number 1, so men born July 9 were assigned draft number 1 and drafted first.
Draft lotteries were conducted again from 1971 to 1975 (for 1952 to 1956 births). The birth year of 1952 was the last draftees, with the assigned number 95 being the last number drafted, which represented those born on July 20, 1952. The draft numbers issued from 1972 to 1975 were not used to call any men into service as the last draft call was on December 7, and authority to induct expired July 1, 1973.They were used, however, to call some men born from 1953 to 1956 for armed forces physical examinations. The highest number called for a physical was 215 (for tables 1970 through 1976). Between 1965 and 1972 the draft provided 2,215,000 service members to the U.S. military.
In the present, not much has changed regarding how the draft would be conducted if it were required in the future. The Selective Service Committee, which presides over draft procedures, has stored the large tumbler that holds all the numbers and dates that would be drawn to select candidates, and the only obvious change between the method of the past and the present is that instead of using pieces of paper in blue capsules, the SSC now uses ping-pong balls with the dates and numbers on them.
Melvin Robert Laird was an American politician, writer and statesman. He was a U.S. congressman from Wisconsin from 1953 to 1969 before serving as Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 under President Richard Nixon. Laird was instrumental in forming the administration's policy of withdrawing U.S. soldiers from the Vietnam War; he coined the expression "Vietnamization," referring to the process of transferring more responsibility for combat to the South Vietnamese forces. First elected in 1952, Laird was the last surviving Representative elected to the 83rd Congress at the time of his death.
The Nixon Doctrine, also known as the Guam Doctrine, was put forth during a press conference in Guam on July 25, 1969 by President of the United States Richard Nixon and later formalized in his speech on Vietnamization of the Vietnam War on November 3, 1969. According to Gregg Brazinsky, author of "Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy", Nixon stated that "the United States would assist in the defense and developments of allies and friends", but would not "undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world." This doctrine meant that each ally nation was in charge of its own security in general, but the United States would act as a nuclear umbrella when requested. The Doctrine argued for the pursuit of peace through a partnership with American allies.
Vietnamization was a policy of the Richard Nixon administration to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War through a program to "expand, equip, and train South Vietnamese forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, at the same time steadily reducing the number of U.S. combat troops". Brought on by the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive, the policy referred to U.S. combat troops specifically in the ground combat role, but did not reject combat by the U.S. Air Force, as well as the support to South Vietnam, consistent with the policies of U.S. foreign military assistance organizations. U.S. citizens' mistrust of their government that had begun after the offensive worsened with the release of news about U.S. soldiers massacring civilians at My Lai (1968), the invasion of Cambodia (1970), and the leaking of the Pentagon Papers (1971).
The Selective Service System (SSS) is an independent agency of the United States government that maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription and carries out contingency planning and preparations for two types of draft: a general draft based on registration lists of men aged 18-25, and a special-skills draft based on professional licensing lists of workers in specified health care occupations. In the event of either type of draft, the Selective Service System would send out induction notices, adjudicate claims for deferments or exemptions, and assign draftees classified as conscientious objectors to alternative service work. All U.S. citizens and immigrant non-citizens who are between the ages of 18 and 25 and assigned male at birth are required by law to have registered within 30 days of their 18th birthdays, and must notify the Selective Service within ten days of any changes to any of the information they provided on their registration cards, such as a change of address. The Selective Service System is a contingency mechanism for the possibility that conscription becomes necessary.
Draft evasion is any successful attempt to elude a government-imposed obligation to serve in the military forces of one's nation. Sometimes draft evasion involves refusing to comply with the military draft laws of one's nation. Illegal draft evasion is said to have characterized every military conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries, in which at least one party of such conflict has enforced conscription. Such evasion is generally considered to be a criminal offense, and laws against it go back thousands of years.
The Paris Peace Accords, officially titled the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam, was a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973, to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. The treaty included the governments of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the United States, as well as the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG) that represented South Vietnamese communists. US ground forces up to that point had been sidelined with deteriorating morale and gradually withdrawn to coastal regions, not taking part in offensive operations or much direct combat for the preceding two-year period. The Paris Agreement Treaty would in effect remove all remaining US Forces, including air and naval forces in exchange. Direct U.S. military intervention was ended, and fighting between the three remaining powers temporarily stopped for less than a day. The agreement was not ratified by the United States Senate.
Conscription in Australia, or mandatory military service also known as National Service, has a controversial history dating back to the first years of nationhood. Australia currently only has provisions for conscription during times of war when authorised by the governor-general and approved within 90 days by both houses of parliament as outlined in Part IV of the Defence Act 1903.
Military service is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job (volunteer) or as a result of an involuntary draft (conscription).
Conscription in the United States, commonly known as the draft, has been employed by the federal government of the United States in six conflicts: the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The fourth incarnation of the draft came into being in 1940 through the Selective Training and Service Act. It was the country's first peacetime draft. From 1940 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the United States Armed Forces that could not be filled through voluntary means. Active conscription came to an end in 1973 when the United States Armed Forces moved to an all-volunteer military. However, conscription remains in place on a contingency basis and all male U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, and male immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, residing within the United States, who are 18 through 25 are required to register with the Selective Service System. United States federal law also continues to provide for the compulsory conscription of men between the ages of 17 and 45 and certain women for militia service pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and 10 U.S. Code § 246.
David Victor Harris is an American journalist and author. He is known chiefly for his role as an anti-war activist during the Vietnam War era, most notably as a leading opponent of the Draft.
The Chicano Moratorium, formally known as the National Chicano Moratorium Committee Against The Vietnam War, was a movement of Chicano anti-war activists that built a broad-based coalition of Mexican-American groups to organize opposition to the Vietnam War. Led by activists from local colleges and members of the Brown Berets, a group with roots in the high school student movement that staged walkouts in 1968, the coalition peaked with a August 29, 1970 march in East Los Angeles that drew 30,000 demonstrators. The march was described by scholar Lorena Oropeza as "one of the largest assemblages of Mexican Americans ever." It was the largest anti-war action taken by any single ethnic group in the USA. It was second in size only to the massive U.S. immigration reform protests of 2006.
Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 against the escalating role of the United States in the Vietnam War and grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years. This movement informed and helped shape the vigorous and polarizing debate, primarily in the United States, during the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s on how to end the war.
The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was a massive demonstration and teach-in across the United States against the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. It took place on October 15, 1969, followed a month later, on November 15, 1969, by a large Moratorium March in Washington, D.C.
Ethnic minorities served in the US armed forces during World War II. All citizens were equally subject to the draft. All minorities were given the same rate of pay. The 16 million men and women in the services included 1 million African Americans, along with 33,000+ Japanese-Americans, 20,000+ Chinese Americans, 24,674 American Indians, and some 16,000 Filipino-Americans. According to House concurrent resolution 253, 400,000 to 500,000 Hispanic Americans served. They were released from military service in 1945-46 on equal terms, and were eligible for the G.I. Bill and other veterans' benefits on a basis of equality. Many veterans, having learned organizational skills, and become more alert to the nationwide situation of their group, became active in civil rights activities after the war.
The role of the United States in the Vietnam War began after World War II and escalated into full commitment during the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1973. The U.S. involvement in South Vietnam stemmed from a combination of factors: France's long colonial history in French Indochina, the U.S. war with Japan in the Pacific, and both Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong's pledge in 1950 to support Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh's guerrilla forces.
The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, also known as the Burke–Wadsworth Act, Pub.L. 76–783, 54 Stat. 885, enacted September 16, 1940, was the first peacetime conscription in United States history. This Selective Service Act required that men who had reached their 21st birthday but had not yet reached their 36th birthday register with local draft boards. Later, when the U.S. entered World War II, all men from their 18th birthday until the day before their 45th birthday were made subject to military service, and all men from their 18th birthday until the day before their 65th birthday were required to register.
The United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) is responsible for manning both the Active Army and the U.S. Army Reserve, ensuring security and readiness for our Nation. Recruiting operations are conducted throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and at U.S. facilities in Germany and Asia. This process includes the recruiting, medical and psychological examination, induction, and administrative processing of potential service personnel.
Randy Kehler is an American pacifist activist and advocate for social justice. Kehler objected to America's involvement in the Vietnam war and refused to cooperate with the draft. He was involved in several anti-war organizations in the 1960s and 1970s.
Draft-card burning was a symbol of protest performed by thousands of young men in the United States and Australia in the 1960s and early 1970s. The first draft-card burners were American men taking part in the opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War. The first well-publicized protest was in December 1963, with a 22-year old conscientious objector, Eugene Keyes, setting fire to his card on Christmas Day in Champaign, Illinois. In May 1964, a larger demonstration, with about 50 people in Union Square, New York, was organized by the War Resisters League chaired by David McReynolds.