For my second post, I want to talk about the history of the draft in United States. Because, as I mentioned in my first blog post the main idea of the song “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin-to-Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish, is to criticize the draft during the Vietnam War.
In 1940 Congress accepted the Selective Training and Service Act which formed the first peacetime draft and established the Selective Service System as an independent federal agency. On December 1969 the first lottery since 1942 was held, at Selective Service National center of operations in Washington, D.C. This draft determined the order of call for 1970. This call includes all men born in the years 1944 through 1950, which means that those men have between 26 to 20 years old. Around 850,000 men were affected by this draft, which is a huge number.
To conduct the lottery, 366 little blue plastic containers, in which each contained one date of the calendar year. These containers were dumped into a large glass container. Then one by one each little container was opened and pointed. The first little container contained the date September, 14. This means that all men who born in that date and between the years 1944 to 1950, received the first priority for call to duty. The first container was picked by the Congressman Alexander Pirnie, but the others were picked up by some delegates who were selected around the country for that job. The last date picked was 8th of June. After the first lottery, a second one was conducted for the 26 letters in the alphabet. This second lottery was made to determine the order of priority (by last name) for each date of birth.
Until 1973, men from United States were drafted to address the needs of the country’s armed forces that could not be met by volunteers. In 1973, the draft was abolished.