50th Anniversary of the first Draft Lottery Drawing

Today is a momentous anniversary for all males born between 1943 and 1951 and who were not already a member of the US Armed Forces.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first US Draft Lottery, held on December 1, 1969.

On this date in 1969, single males between the ages of 18 and 26 and their families gathered around their television sets that evening to watch as 366 numbers were drawn from a clear “bowl.”  Each number represented a different day of the year from January 1 to December 31 and each number was encapsulated inside a blue plastic container.

Various people took turns drawing, one at a time, a small blue container from the bowl, opening the container, and reading aloud the date on the piece of paper they had drawn.   The first number drawn was September 14 and that became known as Draft Number 001. And so it went, for 366 numbers (including February 29th, to cover the coming Leap Year) until all 366 numbers had been drawn and assigned, in ascending numerical order a Draft Lottery Number.   The final Draft Lottery Number date drawn was June 8.

It was assumed that those with draft numbers 001 through 110 had a good chance of being drafted.  Those higher 256 numbers had a good chance of not being drafted, depending upon the needs of the military. 

I was already in the US Navy on this date, and therefore was not affected.  I was stationed in Scotland at the time and oblivious of the nerve-wracking television broadcast going on that evening back in the US.  I had enlisted in the Navy on August 30, 1965, before I was due to be drafted. I did so, not so much to avoid the draft, but to give myself choices in occupational specialties available in the Navy that were unavailable in the Army.

Just for information, I checked the Draft Lottery Numbers for myself and my family members today to see what their numbers would have been if they were draft eligible on this date. 

I would have had a number too high to be drafted.  My wife (if women were draft eligible) would have had a number low enough to be drafted.  My three sons and my daughter would also have had numbers low enough (under 110) to be drafted.  In fact, one son was 053 and one was 057, thus ENSURING they would have been drafted. 

Here is a news story on that momentous night, 50 years ago today:

The first problem to arise was that statisticians proved that the “random” drawing was NOT truly random, due to the way the numbers were “dumped” into the bowl.  Statisticians proved that if you were born in the second half of the year with a birthday later than July 1, you had a better chance of being drafted than those boys with birthdays in the first half of the year. 

The following year, statisticians from the Bureau of Standards were asked to devise a drawing that was truly random.  They specified that there be TWO “bowls,” one with numbers 001 through 366 and the second “bowl” with birthdays January 1 through December 31.  Then each “bowl” was rotated several times, thus thoroughly mixing both. Then a number from one bowl was drawn and “matched” with a date drawn from the second bowl.  This produced a much more random draft lottery. This second video is a short one explaining that process:

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, November 28, 2019, from the Auld family to yours.

May you enjoy God’s great goodness, grace, and mercy today and all the days of your life.

Ninety years since stock market crash

Ninety years ago yesterday is known as “Black Tuesday,” that day on October 29, 1929, when the New York Stock Exchange crashed and The Great Depression began.

The stock market actually began to slide downward on September 4, 1929. Then, 90 years ago yesterday, the market crashed, sending the world into a downward spiral that lasted around 10 years until the late 1930s.

President Herbert Hoover was blamed for The Great Depression, but he had just taken over the Presidency a few months before. Hoover took the brunt of the blame and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) swept into office in the next election in 1932, serving an unprecedented four terms before dying in office in April, 1945.

Several famous novels were set during The Great Depression, including John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” (a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner), his “Of Mice and Men,” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Ninety years ago today, men, women, and children all over the world began a decade of poverty. The US only rebounded after the various FDR employment programs of the 1930s and the rebuilding after World War II.

The Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam

by Scott Auld, Guest Author

September 17, 1862. Antietam.

This was bloodiest day in United States history, with a combined tally of 22,717 Americans dead, wounded, or missing.

After pursuing Robert E. Lee into Maryland, George McClellan launched attacks against defensive positions behind Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. At dawn on September 17, Joseph Hooker’s corps mounted an assault on Lee’s left flank. Union assaults pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Ambrose Burnside’s Union corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek on the Confederate right. Hill’s Confederate division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle.

Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.

McClellan’s failure allowed Lee to shift forces and moving along interior lines. Despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed, McClellan failed to destroy Lee’s army. McClellan’s persistent but erroneous belief that he was outnumbered contributed to his cautiousness throughout the campaign.

McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. With Lee’s withdrawal into Virginia, Lincoln had the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which encouraged the British and French governments to drop plans to recognize the Confederacy.

This was all 157 years ago.

74th Anniversary of V-J Day

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is an auspicious day in history. It is V-J Day: Victory over Japan Day. Today is the 74th anniversary of the signing of the formal Articles of Surrender between the United States and Japan.

The formal signing was on the wooden deck of the Battleship USS MISSOURI (BB 63).

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, shown on the left of the table in the picture above, accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Empire from Japan’s representative, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoro Shigemitsu. In the photo, US Forces officers are dressed in their daily khaki work uniforms. MacArthur is said to have ordered that he and his men would wear that uniform, implying that this was just another “day at the office.”

I saved this post from Tara Ross yesterday to share today on the anniversary of the actual date of surrender, September 2, 1945. My dad fought in the Pacific in New Guinea; my father-in-law in Alaska and my uncle was a pilot in Germany…all during World War II. Truly The Greatest Generation.

I read today where the “leader” of today’s four-member “Squad” wants to usurp that sobriquet for her generation. I would warn her that her generation has a long way to go to earn that honorific.

Here is guest writer and historian Tara Ross’ account of that surrender and the end of World War II in the Pacific: 

By Tara Ross

During this week in 1945, a formal surrender ceremony is held aboard the USS Missouri. Tomorrow is the anniversary of V-J Day! On this day, World War II effectively came to an end.

It had been less than a month since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had been devastating, of course. But the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki was—if anything—even worse. That plutonium bomb produced an explosion 40 percent bigger than the uranium one dropped on Hiroshima.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the bombs prompted the Japanese government to consider surrendering—but it still wasn’t willing to do so unconditionally. Instead, it sought to ensure that such a document would not “compromise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a sovereign ruler.” Nevertheless, President Harry Truman ordered a halt to the atomic attacks so negotiations could commence. Truman’s Secretary of Commerce later reported that Truman really didn’t want to “wip[e] out another 100,000 people . . . . He didn’t like the idea of killing, as he said, ‘all those kids.’”

By August 12, the Japanese government had the American reply: The United States would accept surrender, but any future government of Japan must be established by the “freely expressed will of the Japanese people.”

Negotiations dragged on much too slowly. The Japanese government still didn’t answer right away. The “days of negotiation with a prostrate and despised enemy,” a British ambassador later said, “strained public patience.”

That seems like a bit of an understatement!

When the Japanese government failed to respond, conventional bombings resumed. The United States continued to prepare a third atomic bomb, just in case it was needed. And it did something else: The United States began dropping leaflets across Tokyo. The leaflets described the terms that had been offered for ending the war.

You don’t think surrender was going to be easy, even after all this, do you? It wasn’t, of course. In Japan, there was one last attempt to stop the surrender. A handful of officers attempted a coup, but they were discovered. In the end, many of those involved in the coup attempt committed ritual suicide.

Finally, on August 15, the emperor made an announcement on public radio: Japan would surrender. It was the first time that many Japanese people had ever heard their Emperor’s voice. Can you imagine that?

The formal surrender ceremony occurred aboard the USS Missouri on September 2. The ceremony lasted for 23 minutes. General Douglas MacArthur accepted and signed the Japanese surrender as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Admiral Nimitz and representatives from other nations also signed the document.

Terms of a final treaty would still need to be negotiated, of course. But, for all intents and purposes, World War II was finally over.

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San Jacinto Day, 2019

Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna, disguised as a Mexican Private, is captured and presented to a wounded Sam Houston following The Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836.
An artist’s rendition of The Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836.

By Tara Ross

On this day in 1836, Texans win the Battle of San Jacinto. The battle was won in only 18 minutes! The decisive victory would ultimately ensure independence for the Republic of Texas.

It also avenged the blood that had been shed at the Alamo and at Goliad.

The Texans (then “Texians”) had accomplished their goal with a swiftness that would surely make George Washington’s Continental Army a bit jealous. Texas declared its independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. Within a matter of days, Sam Houston had been appointed “Commander in Chief of all the land forces of the Texian Army, both regulars, volunteers and militia,” and he joined the Texian forces then gathered near Gonzales.

It wasn’t long before he received word that the Alamo had fallen. Mexican forces were headed his way. Houston knew that the Texians weren’t ready for a clash with a large Mexican force—at least not yet. An immediate retreat was imperative if the cause for independence was to survive.

Some Texian families had already been fleeing from the Mexican Army. Now the Texian forces fled, too.

Perhaps retreat doesn’t come naturally to Texans!? Volunteers began flocking to join Houston. They’d heard about the Alamo, and they were ready to fight! By March 19, the size of the army had roughly tripled, and the army was starting to get antsy. Why were they retreating so far? When would they turn and fight?

Some Texians got so disgusted with the inaction that they left, but Houston was determined to pick his spot.

In the meantime, Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna had decided to personally join the pursuit of Houston. There was no way he was going to let some other Mexican general take credit for ending the Texian uprising!

Perhaps Santa Anna should have stayed behind. When the two sides finally met near San Jacinto in mid-April, Santa Anna made a few rookie mistakes. Houston chose to camp in a wooded area that hid his army’s full strength of about 900 men. By contrast, Santa Anna’s larger army made camp in a more vulnerable position. The choice was criticized by Colonel Pedro Delgado who noted that the spot chosen “was in all respects, against military rules. Any youngster would have done better.”

On the night of April 20, the Mexican Army built breastworks and fortified its position. In the meantime, Houston had already issued an appeal for a final round of volunteers. “We view ourselves on the eve of battle,” he’d written. “We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. . . . Be men, be freemen, that your children may bless their fathers’ names.”

How strange it must have been when the next morning dawned—and nothing happened! The Mexican Army received reinforcements, but still didn’t attack. The Texians destroyed a bridge to prevent more Mexican reinforcements from arriving, but Houston didn’t order an attack, either.

Santa Anna’s soldiers relaxed their vigilance, just for a bit. They even took a siesta!

At 3:30 p.m., the Texians made their move. Shielded by high grasses and a rise in the land, they covertly approached the Mexican position. When they were about 200 yards away, they fired the first cannon. Texians were soon swarming over the Mexican breastworks. Within about 18 minutes, Houston later reported, “we were in possession of the enemy’s encampment.” The battle was over, but Texians continued to pursue the fleeing Mexicans for hours afterwards.

Chants of “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” echoed among the victorious Texians. It was basically a slaughter. Hundreds of Mexicans were cut down.

Santa Anna would be captured the next day. A little over three weeks later, a treaty was signed, requiring all Mexican forces to leave the Republic of Texas. #DontMessWithTexas

If you are enjoying the daily dose of history, please don’t miss the note in the comment string, below. Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2019 by Tara Ross. More on that below, too. 🙂

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Guest author, Tara Ross, is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.


Oklahoma Tragedy Anniversary

Oklahoma Firefighter Chris Fields carries infant Baylee Almon who died in the blast. Pultizer Prize-winning photograph by Charles Porter.
The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and reflecting pool was dedicated five years later on April 19, 2000.

Today, April 19, 2019, is the 24th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK.

The bombing at 9:02 a.m. that morning killed 168 men, women, and children, and injured at least 680 others.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were both eventually caught and charged with the bombing. Michael and Lori Fortier were later identified as accomplices.

The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997. Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. Michael and Lori Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols. Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn the United States government, and Lori Fortier received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.

The bombing of the federal building was planned to coincide with the second anniversary of the burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993, and the 220th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which began the American Revolution.

Michael Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for immunity from prosecution for his wife, Lori. He was sentenced to twelve years and served ten and a half years before being released on January 20, 2006. He was given a new identity and transferred to the Witness Protection Program where he resides today.

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