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Where have all the flowers gone?

Back in the 1950s, Pete Seeger wrote a folk song called “Where have all the flowers gone?” This song was sung by several other groups over the years, and was a very popular hit. The song has been referred to as a circular song, in which the end of the song comes back to the original question of where the flowers have gone.

So, where have all the flowers gone? Young girls pick them. And, where have all the young girls gone? They’ve gone to young men. (At that time, it was very honorable to go into the one of the armed forces to serve our country as a soldier, and women were very proud to be married to a man who was a soldier.) So, where have all the young men gone? They’ve gone to be soldiers. Then, where have all the soldiers gone? According to the song, they’ve gone to graveyards. And where have all the graveyards gone? They’re covered with flowers, every one. And, where have all the flowers gone? Young girls pick them, every one.

Thankfully, the truth is that not every soldier goes to the graveyard while serving his/her country, but one thing that has not changed is that it is still very honorable for a person to become a soldier for our country. I am grateful for each individual who has made the decision to serve.

When this song was written, many of the people who served our country were drafted, so it was not always an individual’s decision to join the armed forces. My dad was drafted into the Army, but he was very proud to have served his country.

I was in high school during the war in Vietnam. That was a scary time for most young men who were the age that the Selective Service might draft them. In 1969, the Selective Service brought back the draft lottery, through which draft selections were determined by placing 365 (or 366, depending on the year) blue plastic capsules with birthdays on them into a large container. The capsules were drawn one-by-one until all were drawn.

My boyfriend in high school (Jimmy) had an interesting situation. Jimmy was born on July 8, but the hospital made a mistake on his birth certificate and recorded it as July 7. When he got his driver’s license, he explained to the DMV what happened. He was told that it didn’t matter what date he was actually born; it was the date on the birth certificate that would be used for his date of birth. He was told the same thing when he registered for the draft. So, now his birthday is officially July 7.

The lottery for his year of birth was drawn on July 1, 1970. He was 19 years old. Whenever those lotteries took place, the families of the young men involved were worried, as were the young girls who loved them. That year the first birthday drawn was July 9. (Yikes! If the hospital had recorded his birthday one day later rather than one day earlier, Jimmy would have been No. 1.) His REAL birthday, July 8, was drawn No. 106. And July 7 was drawn No. 365.

Jimmy did not wind up serving in Vietnam, or in any of the armed forces for the United States of America. I haven’t seen him in many, many years, but I am sure he remembers that day in 1970, when his family and I were on the edges of our seats waiting to hear the results of the Selective Service lottery. Although he did not serve, I remember him to be proud to be an American, and I am thankful for that memory of him.

The men and women who did serve in Vietnam deserve the utmost respect for their sacrifices for our country. For any of them who may be reading this article, I thank you wholeheartedly for your service to this great country called America. And now, I ask, where have all the flowers gone? At least some of them belong to you this day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

— My love to all,


• • •

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

— Joshua 1:9

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