The Best Letter I Ever Received

It was the springtime of either 1972 or 1973. I had been asked in writing to arrive soon for a draft physical while in residency at Emory University. With the ongoing Vietnam War it was a matter of serious concern to me.

Then, a week or so later, another letter from my draft board arrived in the mailbox. I couldn’t imagine why, but thought perhaps it was a duplicate. I slowly opened the letter. Basically, it said, the draft board regretfully was informing me the Physician Draft had ended and my appointment was cancelled.

It was as though two lead weights had been lifted off my shoulders. That was followed by a smile as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge.

The letter obviously changed the trajectory of my life. I gained two years in the civilian workforce I would have lost to military duty. I missed the conflict with the highest rate of injury and death to physicians in our history, as I understand. Looking back, it must have meant I would have never met my wife in Baltimore, MD in March of 1977.

To say this was the best snail mail that ever slimed into my mailbox would be a vast understatement. This was exquisite escargot!

I have a writers’ group that meets weekly, now, some fifty years after that difficult war. Ironically, one of the writers, a retired intelligence officer in the Marines, was involved in the creation of the peace treaty that was signed in Paris ending the Vietnam War.