Patrick O'Hara - Birthday Ballot

Running time
2 min 50 sec
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


No, didn't think at all about Vietnam. Didn't know where Vietnam was, didn't have any idea. When I was told I had to register, I think I was eighteen and a half, you had to register. I registered in a bit of, not a daze, but a lack of realism. This won't come to anything, it's just paperwork.

As it got closer and people began to talk about the next ballot and marbles being pulled out and you start to learn that our famous footballers were getting called up, Carl Ditterich for St Kilda and the cricketer, of course, Doug Walters, you start to become more aware of it and then you got, well, excited or anticipation.

I remember at work all waiting for the ballot to come out, I never thought I'd get picked because I never got picked for anything, you know. It was a huge surprise. My recollection is I was sitting in the public service and someone had a newspaper and he called out the dates and one of them was the 1st of December and I just thought "Bloody Hell" and that's when, "What happens now? What's it going to be like? How am I going to go?"

Just the whole thing was like, within myself thinking about the changes was bigger than Ben Hur. The whole thing was a … When I got home Dad said, "Will you be going into the army now?" and mum didn't say much, just waited for the paperwork and it was then I started to read about objectors and burning cards. I never thought of a possibility that I would do that because that was too, I don't know, too big.

There were people who knew a lot more than me. That's for someone else to do. I'll just go ahead and because I didn't know what to do, I didn't know what job I wanted to do. No girls. Girls terrified me. The whole thing of just, this is an adventure, an excitement, different to what I'd done before. I just rolled along.

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