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Episode four of This Is Us season three takes viewers deep into Jack's past for an all too real visit to the frontlines of the Vietnam War. Cowritten by The Things They Carried author Tim O'Brien, "Vietnam" offers younger viewers a glimpse of a much talked about but little understood aspect of the war: the Vietnam draft. Midway through the episode, we discover Jack has a preexisting heart condition that exempts him from being called up. However, his little brother Nicky is anxiously waiting to see if his number will be called during the evening's televised draft lottery. Despite Jack's assurances that even if Nicky's birthday — Oct. 18 — is called, it will be so far down the list, he won't see active duty, his little brother's birthday is the fifth one drawn from the 366 possible birthdays included in the lottery (one for every day of the year, including Feb. 29). But just how accurate is This Is Us's depiction of the draft? It turns out the show didn't cut any corners when it came time to re-create the historic moment.
According to Historynet.com, the Dec. 1, 1969, draft lottery was the first ever to be televised, and young men across the country tuned in to CBS to see if their birthdate would be called early in the telecast, more or less guaranteeing they would be sent to Vietnam. Like Jack and Nicky, some men watched the lottery at bars, while others saw it in their homes or even college dorms. No matter where they were that night, the results of the lottery would change their lives forever.
Bar - Scene - Nicky - Jack - Footage
During the bar scene, Nicky and Jack are seen watching footage of the...
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