A couple months back, a bunch of aging journalists — of which I am one — began comparing notes about our experiences dealing with the draft and Vietnam in the 1960s.

Some had served in combat. Some had manned typewriters as desk jockeys.

None of their stories matched mine. So I wrote my old friend Paul and said this:

While I have great respect for everyone’s service, there is another perspective.

Here’s mine.

I attended a Quaker college — Earlham in Richmond, Indiana — but it’s safe to say my opposition to the war in Vietnam began when I was still a high school student.

Somehow I had come across a copy of a small book entitled “Peace in Vietnam” published by the American Friends Service Committee. It was an eye-opener. I still have my copy.

At Earlham — from the fall of 1966 to graduation in the spring of 1970 — I engaged in countless and sometimes endless bull sessions about American policy in Southeast Asia with my fellow students.

Meanwhile, of course, I was benefitting from the 2-S status of a student deferment from the draft.

It’s difficult to convey to young people (like my daughters) how unfair, corrupt, unbalanced and essentially rotten the Selective Service system was.

Students who could get into college managed to avoid being cannon fodder for a few years. 

But if you happened to attend a rural high school that didn’t offer classes in chemistry, physics or a foreign language, your chances of getting into college were somewhere between slim and none. 

No 2-S for those guys. They graduated high school and were soon shipped out.

The 2-S deferment was — no surprise — abused. As I recall, it was possible to get a 2-S deferment for barber college, which bought a guy a few more months out of uniform.

It was so abused that in the fall of 1966, they required those of us already attending college to take one more SAT-like test to prove to the Selective Service that we actually belonged in higher education.

From its very design, the system guaranteed that most of those drafted were poor and less well educated. And a disproportionate share happened to be black.

While they went off to Vietnam, those of us with 2-S deferments could agonize over the moral rights and wrongs of the war for four full years. 

Unlike, say, the generation that enlisted for World War II in the wake of Pearl Harbor, we had time to think about it, to argue about it, to weigh the costs and to witness its toll. 

While I was in college, two of my high school classmates lost their lives in Vietnam. One was a very good friend.

Those friends who were drafted were one end of the spectrum. At a Quaker college in the 1960s, you also dealt with the other end: Friends who resisted the draft completely and went to prison.

My choice fell somewhere in between.

During my senior year at age 21, I applied for status as a conscientious objector, known in those Selective Service days as 1-0.

Like the rest of the draft system, the application itself was fundamentally flawed. 

While it gave some legacy benefit to those who grew up Amish or Mennonite or Quaker, for the rest of us it came down to being able to write a good answer to an essay question. There were four questions as I recall.

The toughest one asked you to explain why you should be classified 1-0 instead of 1-A-0, which would have qualified you for non-combatant service in the military, most likely as a medic.

I couldn’t answer that one convincingly, at least not to my satisfaction, and I fully expected to find myself as a combat medic simply because of one answer on an essay test.

Instead, on Aug. 26, 1970, I received my 1-0 conscientious objector status from my local draft board. My lottery number was low enough that I was soon beginning my two years of alternative service.

I was what was known as a surgery attendant — an orderly — in the surgical unit of Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

As such, I did everything from mopping bloody floors to ferrying corpses to the morgue.

Fun? Not really. But it was exactly what I needed at the time.

Like most kids just out of college, I was completely full of it.

It did me a world of good to be handed a mop and be informed that essentially every living human being in the hospital ranked higher than I did. 

My education, my race, any status I might have meant nothing. It was time to get to work.

And work I did for two years to the day, completing my alternative service to my country without participating in a war I viewed as wrong-headed and immoral.

That was the first big moral choice of my life. There have been dozens of others, but I still think that one helped me figure out the rest.