25 May 2009

348

348 was my Selective Service lottery number. It was pulled on December 1, 1969. Buttons were fashioned soon after and sold in shops in Greenwich Village; have something to proclaim, say it & wear it on a button, like a campaign button. I picked up a yellow one with black 348 Gil Sans numbers on it. I wore it on my calf length winter army-surplus brass buttoned wool coat. It felt authentic and it was warm.

I was immensely relieved and felt liberated by my lottery number. I knew it was highly unlikely I'd be called to serve. As a result I didn't have to really contemplate my brother's lead and proclamation some years earlier that, "I'll go to Canada." in protest and to avoid service. He got a college deferment. He was afraid too. I was proud and self centered. I was ignorant. I was inexperienced.
I'd been reared in a cultural and educational ghetto. My ghetto didn't include an active birth-family military tradition of service to a cause or belief greater than one's self. In my birth family my parent's couldn't successfully convey the notion there was a belief or ideal greater than one's self. As a result I didn't understand the personal sacrifice of body and soul in military service. I think that was true of many in my cultural ghetto.

I live in a different culture now. I'm woven into that culture and it into me. It's a culture in which a person's military service may be their only experience beyond their birth culture. It's a culture in which many people and families find honor and pride. It's a culture in which many people and families are permanently shaped. It's a culture that is different from my birth culture.

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