Ted Gup writes: On the evening of Dec. 1, 1969, I was sitting on the floor of a crowded Brandeis University dorm room while on the TV the birth dates of men across the nation, contained in small blue capsules, were drawn out of a container. This lottery would largely determine who among some 850,000 of the draft-eligible would go to Vietnam and who would be left to carry on with their careers, free from the threat of enemy fire.
That evening came back to me on Tuesday as I read about Donald Trump’s multiple student deferments and the bone spurs he said exempted him from service. I am no fan of Mr. Trump’s, but on this issue, I am in no position to stand in judgment. I had the dubious honor of being picked first in that 1969 lottery, along with all the eligible men who shared my birthday, Sept. 14. But I did not go into service. Just before I graduated, I instead availed myself of a psychiatrist who, for a fee, swore that I suffered from delusions of grandeur because I wanted to be a writer and travel the world. Funny how the truth can be twisted into something so dishonorable.
Mr. Trump and I were among those favored sons who could find a relatively easy exit from the draft. But Mr. Trump still stands out. Reading of his comments questioning Senator John McCain’s status as a hero, his equating the risks of contracting sexual diseases with the perils of combat, his attack on the family of a fallen Muslim officer, and his claim of sacrifice in pursuit of wealth and self-aggrandizement, I realized just how isolated and self-absorbed he was during that turbulent period, and how completely out of sync he is with most of his generation, veterans and evaders alike. He seems to have escaped the turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s not merely unscathed, but untouched by humanity. [Continue reading…]