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Oklahomans and the Vietnam War

The Draft

The draft or conscription has been around since the Civil War but it has always dissolved after the war is over. Because of the Cold War, the draft was not ended after World War II. From 1948 and 1973 the draft was used to fill vacancies in the military that were not filled by individuals who volunteered. Men were required to register for the draft 30 days after their 18th birthday. The Selective Service System held the first Vietnam lottery on December 1, 1969, which was covered on radio and television. The first lottery included men whose birthdays were between January 1, 1944, and December 31, 1950. If your birthday was assigned to a low number, you were called to military service. The majority of men drafted were from less-affluent situations and were the majority of the troops on the ground. Men were able to avoid the draft if they were attending college or for medical reasons. Others who were not able to receive legal deferments left the country for safety. A popular form of protest against the war was to burn your draft card.

Men who have been drafted line up to receive orders (Courtesy of Library of Congress) (2)

Young man burning a draft card (Courtesy of Library of Congress) (3)


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