If you ‘ve been listening to the interviews we’ve been doing with male alumni, you’ll have heard that each of them recalls what happened to them in the draft lottery. No matter where they were, most men who were 19-25 years old in 1969 remember the night of December 1 when a lottery number determined their fate for the next few years of their lives.
Previously, men were eligible for induction into the military from when they were 19 until they turned 26. They had to register with the Selective Service and could be called at any point during that seven year period, with the oldest being taken first. There were a number of deferments available, such as for college students, certain occupations, and medical conditions.
This system was changed to one in which a lottery determined the order in which men would be drafted and they would only be eligible during their 19th year. For the first year only of the new system, 1970, all ages of “the pool” were eligible.
You can read more about how it worked, as well as look up what your number would have been, from the Selective Service System.