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Married Men in WWII


On September 16, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt implemented the first peacetime draft in history, known as the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. The following year, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the United States was at war. Thousands of young men rushed to the recruitment centers and joined the Armed Forces, but after the excitement wore off and they realized this would be a long and bloody involvement, enlistment fell well below the demand.

All men between the ages of 18 and 64 were required to register for the draft, but married men were exempt from military service. Many a man chose to march down the aisle rather than march for Uncle Sam, enough so that Brigadier General Heber L. Edwards, state Selective Service director, felt a need to clarify the status of eligible married men on this date in 1942.

The regulation stated, “Such married status must have been acquired prior to December 8, 1941, and at a time when the registrant’s selection was not imminent.” So, any man married after the bombing of Pearl Harbor was eligible for military service. However, General Edwards pointed out that the word “imminent” was the key to understanding the draft status for married men. Although December 8, 1941 was the only date mentioned in the draft regulation, the national appeals board declared that the selection of any man for military service was imminent as soon as they registered for the draft back in 1940, even though the United States was not yet at war.

The Selective Service Board did make two exceptions for men who married after September of 1940. If a child had been born to this union prior to December 8, 1941, then the man would be exempted from the draft. The second exception was if the man had been given a 4F Classification, meaning he was unfit for military service – his induction into military service was not imminent and therefore his marital status exempted him from the draft even if the disability was corrected.

So, for those who chose to marry, not for love but for war, they may have soon found themselves battling on two fronts. Hopefully they survived both and lived happily ever after.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis


Benson County Farmers Press July 24, 1942