In this lesson, students will determine their draft number and their likelihood of having been called to serve. They will watch Talking Vietnam in their High School Halls and read "A Ledger of Names, Mine Among Them," stories from Flatland that explore local experiences with the draft. The lesson continues with "Driven to Dissent."
50-minute class period
- Explore the impact of the Vietnam draft on a generation of high school graduates in 1969-1970.
- Understand the individual struggle between support and protest that led to tensions in American culture during the late 1960s and 1970s.
- Relate this understanding of the protest movement during the Vietnam Era to current protest movements.
Computer or tablet with internet access
Projector or television
Video: Talking Vietnam in their High School Halls (Flatland, KCPT's Digital Magazine)
Article: "A Ledger of Names, Mine Among Them" (Flatland, KCPT's Digital Magazine)
Other: 1969 Draft (Selective Service System, United States Government)
Before class, write each month on a slip of paper and place into a bowl or container to be drawn in front of the class. When the students arrive, inform them that today we will decide who has to complete the Do Now/Introductory question based on their birthday. Have a student draw out 6 of the month slips. As each month is drawn, write it on the board. Inform the class that ONLY the students with birthdays in those months have to complete the Do Now. All other students may relax for the next 3 minutes until class discussion.
Do Now/Introductory question:
- What is a military draft lottery? Explain that a draft is a system for selecting individuals for compulsory (mandatory) military service.
- Was it fair that only half of the class had to complete the question?
- Do you think deciding military service this way was fair?
- Is it your duty to serve your country?
- What if you don’t agree with the war? What exemptions should there be?
Use the worksheet, “Draft Day, 1969” (found under Support Materials) to complete the following.
Ask students to look up their draft number in the 1969 Draft and answer the following questions:
- Based on your birthday, what was your draftnumber?
- What was your chance of being drafted?
- How do you think you would have reacted to receiving this number?
Survey the class to determine how many students have numbers between 001 and 195. Explain to students that individuals with these numbers would have been called to serve. Engage students in discussion to explore their reactions. Example questions:
- How do they think they would have reacted to this news?
- Would this have changed their decision to go to college?
Have students answer the following by a show of hands.
- Based on the information we have seen and talked about today, how many students feel that they would have wanted to serve in the military during Vietnam (enlisted)?
- For the rest of the students, if you were drafted, how many would have sought some sort of deferment (either student or medical)?
- How many students feel they would have protested the war in Vietnam?