In Response to: Never Going Back [6]

Thanks for a great article. But I’d like to take exception to one comment, and to provide a little clarification on another point. I was a Ph.D. student in economics and began at Princeton in September of 1967.

“In the fall of 1967, the antiwar movement wasn’t really serious” is news to the thousands of us who demonstrated at the Pentagon in October 1967 (recounted in Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night). I think a more accurate statement would be that the antiwar movement hadn’t yet succeeded in convincing a majority of Americans that the war was folly.

As a freshman at the University of Michigan and a member of Students for a Democratic Society, I passed out handbills in the spring of 1965 for the nation’s first teach-in on the war in Vietnam. I always thought of that teach-in as the beginning of the antiwar movement.

The clarification concerns draft deferments for graduate students. Prior to the fall of 1967, graduate students would get multi-year deferments that would allow them to finish their Ph.D.s, and by the time they finished they were older than what the Army wanted and weren’t drafted. Grad students who began in the fall of 1968 received no deferments. Those of us who began in September 1967 received a one-year deferment. Several of my classmates signed up for ROTC, to ensure that they would be able to finish at Princeton and not be drafted prior to that. One left to go to the Peace Corps, another to Vista. I applied to my draft board as a conscientious objector, was turned down, appealed, and while the appeal was pending the lottery came in and I won the lottery.