So I wasn't originally going to put an author's note in this but I feel like I need to put in a disclaimer. This story is inspired by Michael Grant's book Front Lines (which is a great book and I highly recommend it) but the only thing they have in common is the fact that the explore an alternate history where women were allowed to fight in the Second World War.
September 30, 1940
"George Ackerman is suing the Birmingham Draft Board over the Selective Training and Service Act. The act went into effect September 16 of this year and requires that all American males between the ages of 21 and 36 register with their local draft board. Ackerman complains the Selective Training and Service Act unjustly targets men. Ackerman became a veteran of the Great War after he was drafted into the Army in 1918 at the age of 18. He is now the father of five sons, four of whom have been required to register for the draft, and one daughter."
The news sent my father into a rage. He was aghast at the idea of women being drafted, of women fighting in a war. He was also a veteran of the Great War. Unlike George Ackerman, whom he decried as a selfish coward, my father had not been drafted but had gone willingly. In fact he had been so eager to fight that he lied about his age and joined up at the age of 16. Also unlike Ackerman he was a the father of only daughters.
He had seen war and it was no place for women. Women were too delicate, too weak for that type of thing. None of us thought women would actually be put into combat, but none of us thought a person like George Ackerman would come along and demand women be drafted either.
My mother tried everything to soothe my father. The case would be dismissed. The United States was not at war. No one would allow women in combat, the military would only be drafting secretaries. None of it assuaged his fears.
He never talked about the war but I knew it had been terrible for him. Some nights I woke up to hear him screaming as if he were still in the trenches.
October 17, 1940
"Since the first group of draftees have been called up Ackerman's case has gained some support. The case of Ackerman v. The Birmingham Draft Board will be heard before the Supreme Court later this week. When asked what he would do if his daughter, 16 year old Ruth Ackerman, is drafted Ackerman replied, "sue again for drafting a child".
I was the youngest of three and the only one who wasn't at risk for being drafted if Ackerman actually won. My older sisters had made a solemn vow to avoid being drafted at all costs, which meant two very different things to them.
My oldest sister, Lois, decided that she would elope with her boyfriend, Elmer Graham, and get pregnant. I had no idea whether Elmer was aware of this plan or not, but he was so head over heels for Lois I had no doubt he'd do anything to keep her out of the war.
While Regina had every intention of avoiding the draft, she had no intention of avoiding the war. If women were drafted she'd enlist.
No one asked me what I would do, no one had to. I was only 15 at the time.
October 19, 1940
"It's official women will be drafted! The ruling in Ackerman v. The Birmingham Draft Board was handed down earlier this morning, shocking the nation. Americans between the ages of 21 and 35 will be required to register for the draft. This decisions has raised many questions. What type of exemptions will be offered for mothers? What will women do in the military? Will women fight on the front lines?
I had never seen my father cry before. It wasn't exactly comforting. Our whole street was in a panic. Neighbors began pounding on each other's doors, asking "Have you heard the news?" and "What are you going to do?"
The next day my father dressed in his Sunday best and took Lois and Regina to register. The house was silent that day, no one dared to speak. The radio was kept off.
Three days later Lois announced her engagement to Elmer, being a good Catholic girl she had decided against eloping. Her wedding would take place as soon as possible.
Regina and a few other neighborhood girls enlisted the same day, most didn't tell their parents until after. It wasn't so bad at that time. It was still peacetime in the United States and it was unclear what role women would actually play in the military.
Still my parents were not happy with Regina. My mother cried and my father raged.