Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A rush to enlist...to fight and die...



Fueled by outrage and patriotism, many young men showed up at their local recruiter’s office on the day after Pearl Harbor. All males between the ages of 18 and 65 were required to register for the draft.  While 17 was the minimum age, many boys lied about their ages in order to join the service. In fact, in 1942 the General Education Development (GED) was established to help vets acquire a high school diploma since many left school before graduation.
However, if a young man wanted to apply for flight training, at least in the beginning, he had to be between the ages of 18 and 22 and have a high school diploma. Before Pearl Harbor a candidate had to have been in the top half of his class, but that requirement was dropped in November 1941 only a month before the United States entered the war.
From 1941-1945, 405,399 young men and women died, 1,076,445 were wounded, and 30,314 were listed as missing in action--a high cost. (*Other sources cite different figures)

From Ruthann’s War:

“Well, then, to make a long story short, someone I worked for encouraged me to go to college--or at least go for a teaching certificate--so I did. I liked teaching and kept going back to school during the summer terms until I’d gotten enough credentials to be an administrator. The future’s in our young peope, you now, more now than ever. We’ve lost too many of a generation during this last war, so it’s doubly important to nurture the ones we have left.” He stopped again. “I know your fiancĂ© died in the war.”
Ruthann nodded. “He flew B-17s out of England. He didn’t come back from his ninth mission.”
She watched honest sorrow fill his blue eyes. “Daylight bombing. It was the only way to get the job done, but our losses were tremendous.”
“Jack’s whole crew was lost.”
“I’m very sorry about that, Miss Cooper. After the first war, President Wilson said we’d set ourselves up for another one. I remember hearing him on the radio and hoping he was wrong, but it happened just as he said.”
Ruthann couldn’t speak past the lump in her throat, but she knew the memory of Jack didn’t put it there. Rather, something in Drew Mallory’s earnest words made her feel small and inadequate.

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