Political  Calculations

Today, we're revisiting the topic of the ages of those who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War 2, because we have new information to add to it!

Before we go any further, the reason we're doing this is because this information plays a key part in one of the projects we're developing behind the scenes here at Political Calculations, which we'll be presenting in bits and seemingly unrelated pieces throughout this year.

So what information are we adding today? Well, it's about the end of volunteerism and the institutionalization of mandatory conscription for filling the ranks of the U.S. Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines during the Second World War.

Air Force Magazine's John T. Cornell explains more about how the American tradition of volunteering for military service came to be rejected by the executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

In 1936, an obscure Army major, Lewis B. Hershey, was appointed the executive officer of the Joint Army-Navy Selective Service Committee, set up to prepare for possible mobilization. The panel consisted of two officers and two clerks. Hershey was a former schoolteacher who joined the National Guard in 1911 and transferred to the regular Army after World War I. Nobody, least of all Hershey, dreamed the job would last for decades....

When Germany in 1940 invaded the Low Countries and France, Congress authorized the first peacetime draft in American history. Inductions began in November 1940. The following year, Hershey was promoted to brigadier general and named director of the Selective Service.

A total of 10.1 million men were drafted during World War II. At the beginning of the war, men rushed to enlist, but, from Hershey’s perspective, that ruined orderly conscription. He persuaded President Roosevelt in December 1942 to end voluntary enlistments except for men under 18 and over 38.


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