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May 20, 2015


Cassandra Clarke Belgrave

My Brother was not lucky in the 1973 Military draft lottery...born August 16th...lottery# 19...the telephone rang immediately with offers...he agreed to 4 years Army no overseas...My Mother who stood by when my Dad went Army in WWII, and my oldest brother enlisted in the US Marine Corp...when my youngest brother received the low lottery number...this strong independent woman, bought her own car, worked full-time and raised 5 kids...she had a melt-down...it was so sad to witness...she pulled it together but she was scared for my youngest brother...who sailed through the 4 years at various military bases...and used his GI Bill to finish his college degree and had a successful life...I always felt proud about Military endeavors but my Mother's reaction removed the rose-colored glasses...I am a Veteran and I worked at the Fort Hamilton Veterans Hospital...I am very empathic with Veterans, their families and Military Personnel and their families...you have to be because they have and will fight for this Country against foreign threats...never put them down...

Connie Knapp

What a beautiful post. My father served in WWII, as did both my father- and mother-in-law. I understand the pull of uniforms.
I protested the Viet Nam war. I am not a pacifist, I sort of understand the "just war" theory, but I am embarrassed at the way we send off "volunteers" and "contractors" to fight our (undeclared) wars.
Your post is a wonderful reminder about the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Thank you for writing it.

Betty Thomas

I also have a father who was on a troop ship in the middle of the Pacific when the war ended. And I graduated in 1973, and remember the lottery all too well - prayers for high numbers, plans for college exemptions, and statements of "if all else fails I'm moving to Canada." (As a female, I wasn't subject to the lottery - which led to feelings of relief and outrage at the same time - but had cousins and classmates who were.) I protested the Vietnam War in college and still tear up at the National Anthem. Thanks for your tribute, which so well articulates the contradictory emotions around this topic!

Steve Leveen

Dear Cassandra, Connie and Betty,

Your memories and words mean so much to me. Thank you for sharing, and yes, "contradictory emotions" sums up my feelings as well. My best wishes to you all this Memorial Day.


Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Thank you, Steve, for standing up for both sides of the conversation with such profound tenderness and feeling. My father flew fighter planes in WWII and lived to the ripe old age of 95. Many of my contemporary male friends (I graduated from high school in 1967) were drafted and served in Vietnam. While everyone I knew came home, none came home unscathed by the experience, either physically or emotionally. Blind patriotism is not what the Founding Fathers espoused, and you have articulated this beautifully.

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