Tuesday, November 11, 2014

At The Eleventh Hour On The Eleventh Day

Today is Veterans Day. Up until 1954, it was known simply as Armistice Day. The change came about due to the efforts of WWII veteran Raymond Weeks who had the idea to celebrate all veterans and not just the veterans of WWI. Thus, I would like to give my thanks to all veterans, living and dead, for their service to our country.

Armistice Day which commemorates the end of WWI got me to thinking about my grandfathers. While neither served in WWI, I was able to find their draft cards.

My paternal grandfather, William Thomas Richardson, was a farmer and had four children when he registered for the draft in 1918. My father did not come along until 1919.

My maternal grandfather, John Francis Sheridan, was a tax assessor with the City of New York. He registered for the draft in 1917. He did not marry my grandmother until 1918 and my mother was born in 1919. My mother told me that he was always disappointed that he was turned down for service due to his eyesight.

If you look at the lower left corner of my Grandfather Sheridan's draft registration, you will see a tab that reads, "If person is of African descent, tear off this corner." I find it interesting that this is on the card belonging to my grandfather residing in New York and not the one residing in North Carolina.

I found these on Ancestry.com. Today it is free to search their military records collection. They have draft cards from WWI and WWII as well as US Navy ship muster rolls. If you want to do more in-depth searching on an ancestor's US military background, you can get records from the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records.


  1. My Great-Grandfather was in the Union Cavalry in the Civil War, and was wounded, which in those days gave you a pension. My Mother’s father was in the Austrian Army and fought the Italians in WW1. ALL my uncles (both sides) served in WW2 except the one who was too old and married, and the two youngest who served in the Korean War. My Dad’s uncle was career USN in the 30’s. We have pictures of this dapper man in Hong Kong, Yokohama, Honolulu, and (I think) Sidney, and pictures he took while passing under the Golden Gate Bridge while it was under construction. He was in Naples when his cruiser was hit by the Fritz-X missile, almost sank, and had to be towed to the US for repairs.
    My Father missed going to the South Pacific in July 1942 because (after volunteering for the Navy and being rejected for color-blindness was accepted into the Construction Battalions) he caught pneumonia and then appendicitis (or the other way around, I can’t remember) in Gulfport Mississippi in July. When he recovered, they sent him to Trinidad where he built barracks for the people building the Waller Army airfield there for the Air Transport Command that ferried airplanes across the South Atlantic. Some female relative of his, I forget her name, and even her relationship to my Dad, thought that he had somehow unfairly “lucked out” and not served enough, as her father, son, or brother did, who apparently was closer to the shooting.
    And while I’m not sure, I think virtually every adult I came into contact with growing up had some military service. As they pass on I am always surprised at this part of their lives that never came up in conversation but which helped them become the men they were.
    Of my generation, I have one cousin who enlisted in the Navy and flunked out. I went the college route, but no service. No others in my family. I can’t help but think of a line from the 1939 Four Feathers, “First time there isn’t a Wilson in the military, and look at the mess we’re in. I’m too old and the boy’s too young.” I really hope things don’t get so bad the draft has to be brought back. I would really prefer my nephew to not have to serve.

    1. Windy - contact me off line at jpr9954 AT gmail DOT com. It could be our dads served in the same places at the same times. My Dad was in the Corps of Engineers in the Caribbean Command. Somewhere I have his Caribbean Command patch which featured the Santa Maria on a blue background.