Monday, January 30, 2012

Selective Service Medal

Here is a brand new addition I would like to share:  the Selective Service Medal!  While I collect mainly military items, I have picked up a few nice representative civilian/Home Front items over the last year, including this one last week.  The Selective Service Medal was awarded during and immediately after World War II for service on and administration of draft boards.  These medals are quite common and often found complete with their cardboard cases, as mine is.  Examples can sometimes be had under $30, which is quite a bang for your buck when considering that you are getting a nice WWII-era medal!


These medals are brass strikes with the US seal on the front and engraved on the reverse "Awarded in the name of the Congress of the United States for faithful and loyal service."  The case is a cardboard version of the "coffin" style cases often seen holding WWII medals, with a less-than-sturdy hinge and nice velvet backing.  What is fantastic is that there are brass catches to hold the medal and ribbon bar in place.

In doing a little bit of research, I have noticed that there really is not a whole lot of information on the Selective Service Medal available on the web.  I have been unable to find the exact dates that the medal was authorized, though it was sometime after the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940 and ceased in the years after WWII.  Since civilians ran the draft boards locally, few enlisted men and officers ever had these on their ribbon bars.  There are a number of General Staff officers, however, that were awarded the Selective Service Medal for organizing and supervising the draft.

General Lewis B. Hershey awarding the Selective Service Medal to Tom C. Clark (see below)

The photo above is one of the few period photos I could find of anyone wearing the Selective Service Medal.  The photo depicts General Lewis B. Hershey awarding the medal to Tom C. Clark in March 1946 (photo found at the Truman Library).  General Hershey was appointed Director of Selective Service by Roosevelt in 1941 and served in this role until removed by Nixon in 1970.  Imagine how popular he must have been in the Vietnam years!  Tom Clark has an interesting record as well:  he was the civilian coordinator of Japanese relocation and internment in early WWII.  He was appointed Attorney General under Truman in 1945 and appointed to the Supreme Court in 1949 and served until 1967.  Looking back from an historical standpoint, there may be much controversy and discussion to be had surrounding the legacy of these men; judgments are beyond the scope of this blog post.

If anyone uncovers some more information on these medals, please let me know!  I am looking to learn the dates that they were issued and the qualifying service one must have performed in order to earn it.  But in the meantime it will sit on the shelf to represent the means through which our country raised its fighting forces in World War II.

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