Number is up!


Mr Tarr, head of the Vietnam draft lottery, has died at age of 88 in Walnut Creek, CA.

A Nixon appointee, he headed Selective Service in 1970. He heard a lot of “Hell No, We Won’t Go”.

And now, his number is up.

I wonder how those who survive him, still lingering in the Canadian woods, think.

(Read “the things they carry”, the chapter about Tim O’ Brien got near the shore, and turned around to face the draft).

It’s been 50 years since that fateful 1963 year. It marked the assassination of practically everybody, from Kennedy to Diem, from Thich Quang Duc self-immolation to the exile of Madam Nhu.

Back then, my big brother got drafted too, out of pharmacy school. His baby died after having lived for a few days in the battle zone of Qui Nhon. So my mom and I flew up to be with them. Not a Bob Hope and Susie Q type of landing at the front. But at night, the two sides were at it (bullets flying everywhere).

My first taste of a real hot war.

Meanwhile, a little girl, our own flesh and blood, was buried somewhere out there, unvisited and untraceable.

Her number was up.

Saw Gatsby this week.

The writer’s comment “of all of New York, the multitude who crashed Gatsby’s great party, not a single soul showed up for his funeral”.

Thought you would like me to quote that as it relates to “Number is up” type of blog.

This morning, over coffee, a friend joked that he would like to have his ashes scattered. I said I would do it, if he stated it in his will (who wants to fight with his families as to his future whereabouts).

I know one thing: my niece is out there somewhere in Qui Nhon. Among many whose numbers were also up.

Selective service or not. I still held that draft deferred card. It says ” Draft deferred. Reason, sole male in a family whose  other son(s) was already active in duty”. Like it or not, my pharmacist brother number was up during that time.

Mine wasn’t. And we were interlinked, by DNA and draft numbering system. I attended my niece’s funeral. I hope to be there when it’s her father’s turn to join her. My brother deserves more than what Gatsby gets at the end of life.

Make your end, a standing-room only type of funeral. I will request to have “Whiter Shade of Gray” play at mine.

RIP Mr Tarr.

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