An excerpt from Douglas Hopkins’s Memoirs of World War II

"I remember after the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, hundreds of young men just like me registering for the Selective Service, or as it is commonly called, the draft. I remember that I had read somewhere that the Selective Service was invented to ease the registration of men between the ages of 21-30 for military service, at least, that’s what it was during World War I. The registrants had to have an examination to determine their mental and physical fitness, and unless found ineligible, would join the armed forces.
When all my friends and I were registering during the Second World War, the only real differences between the Selective Service Act of 1917 and 1940 were the ages and the amount of men. The Act of 1940 broadened the age range from 30 to 36 and insured that only 900,000 men would be training in the army at any one time. Later, after the United States officially entered the war, the ages were broadened again to 18-45 years old. Eventually, the Selective Service System provided around 10 million soldiers for the armed forces.
Most of us joined the armed forces to see some action and become heroes. I mean, my life was pretty dull at home. I wanted to get out and do something and try to save the world. Joining the military sounded like it would provide me with the opportunity to do those things, and I knew just about everyone else was joining. Little did we know what was really in store for us soldiers.
First, we all went through eight months of basic training. For me, that was like a living death. We learned how to march, use a gun, follow orders, deal with exhaustion and misery and loneliness, and stand at attention. Then, after we finished basic training, we were officially considered GI’s. I learned from one of my drill sergeants that GI originally stood for “galvanized iron”, then GI was interpreted as “government issue”, and finally came to stand for American soldiers. Next…"the_draft.JPG

Works Cited

Danzer, Gerald A., et al. The Americans. Page 573. McDougal Littell Inc., 2003.
“SELECTIVE SERVICE.” The History Channel website. 2004. March 18, 2009. <>.
“selective service.” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. © 2007 on Fact Monster. © 2000-2009 Pearson Education, publishing as Fact Monster. March 18, 2009. <>.

Bryan Warrington