You're never too old to serve your country, even if you were born between 1893 and 1897.
If you're in that age range, Uncle Sam wants you to register for the draft.
Here's how it happened.
In June, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation transferred nearly 400,000 records to the U.S. Selective Service.
Apparently, a clerk failed to select the correct century.
So instead of getting names and address of males born between 1993 and 1997, PennDOT came up with men born a century earlier.
Those PennDOT records were then sent to the Selective Service System, and that agency sent registration notices to 14,215 Pennsylvania men who presumably died a long time ago.
The notices were delivered, mostly to descendants.
The notices warned the men, ages 117 to 121, to register with the Selective Service or face consequences "punishable by a fine and imprisonment." Sounds like a plot from F Troop.
Alarmed, family members who received the notices didn't know what to do.
Many tried calling the Selective Service only to reach an automated answering service.
PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight admitted the goof.
"We made a mistake, a quite serious selection error."
Chuck Huey, 73, a man from my former neighborhood of Kingston, told The Associated Press he got a notice addressed to his late grandfather, Bert Huey, a World War I veteran born in 1894 and who'd died in 1995 at age 100.
"I said, 'Geez, what the hell is this about?'"
Selective Service eventually realized the error.
Fortunately, the agency determined that the deceased men shouldn't be obligated to respond.
Selective Service posted this update on its website:
"Selective Service apologizes for a June 30, 2014, mailing to 14,215 Pennsylvania men reminding them that they should register. Unfortunately, these letters were sent before a computer error was discovered. The mailing included erroneous names of men born during 1893-1897 from a routine automated data transfer between the State of Pennsylvania and Selective Service. Selective Service regrets any inconvenience caused the families of these men and assures them that the error has been corrected and no action is required on their part."
That's good to know.
But how can such a transfer of data be called "routine?"
And I'm not quite sure how they can call it a computer error. Some are calling the mistake "the human Y2K bug."
It's alarming to think that something as important as registration for U.S. military service can be subject to the confusion of the wrong century.
Selective Service note to self: When mailing out the next wave of draft registration forms, avoid using a 100-year-old database, unless you're trying to locate Wyatt Earp.
All of this sounds hard to believe.
Yet it's true.
You couldn't possibly make this stuff up not in a hundred years.