Wreaths Across America in Devine, TX December 17

Published: 28 October 2022

By Kathleene Runnels
Via the Devine News newspaper (TX) web site




Recognizing those who served abroad in WWI and later, and reflecting on the effects on citizens at home

One might imagine that many of today’s young people, and perhaps not so young, don’t fully understand the effect the wars of the twentieth century had on most of the citizens of the United States, going back as far as the onset of WWI. For example, consider the Selective Service, or, the draft.

On May 18, 1917, (six weeks after the U.S. formally entered the First World War) President Woodrow Wilson signed the Selective Services Act in preparation for U.S. involvement in World War I. At the time, the U.S. had a standing army of just over 100,000. The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began one month later. Interestingly, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson began drawing draft numbers out of a big glass bowl, and as the numbers were handed to the President, they were read aloud for public announcement. Within a few months, 10 million men across the country had registered in response. By the end of WWI, November of 1918, 24 million men had registered; of the those who eventually served in the war, some 2.8 million had been drafted. The draft was then dissolved after WWI. (Historyonthenet.com)

Then, in September, 1940, Congress passed the Burke-Wadsworth Act, which imposed the first peacetime draft in the history of the United States. By October of 1940, all men between the ages of 21 and 35 were required to register with their local draft board. Subsequently, 66% of U. S. Armed forces members were drafted during WWII.

Reflecting next on the ultimate sacrifices of these wars, during WWI, the Allies (The Triple Entente – consisting of France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, and Japan) lost about 6 million military personnel. The Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, and their colonies, lost 4 million. (WikipediA)

Then came WWII, which has been listed as the bloodiest war in human history, killing over 60 million people – 3% of the entire world population in 1939 died in the war. It is estimated that approximately 407,000 American military died in WWII and 12,000 civilians (due to crimes of war and military activity). The total death count for all Americans: 420,000. (Historyonthenet.com) The wartime draft then expired in 1947 but was reinstated the following year.

And then there’s the Korean War, 1950-53. Because of the need for additional soldiers during this war, the minimum age for the draft was lowered to seventeen, and men were to serve an average of two years, with men who served in WWII being exempt. During this war, the American casualties reached almost 40,000, with more than 100,000 wounded.

Read the entire article on the Devine News web site here:

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