This object is a World War I draft registration card for Ernst Fritz Schuchard of San Antonio, Texas. Born in 1893, Schuchard was twenty-four years old when he registered for the draft.
The Selective Service Act, or Selective Draft Act, was passed in 1917 and allowed the President to temporarily increase the size of the military during times of war. After the Act became law, there were three registrations in 1917 and 1918. Schuchard registered on the first registration day which was held on June 5, 1917. This registration day was designated for all “men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one and those born between 6 June 1886 and 5 June 1896.” In Texas, 989,600 men registered for the draft in 1917. Schuchard was later drafted into the Army and served in World War I.
The Selective Service Act was cancelled after the end of World War I, but a new version was passed by Congress in 1940 in preparation for the United States’ involvement in World War II. The Selective Service Act was due to expire in 1947, but President Truman and Congress renewed it. During the Vietnam War, the selective service act was met with public resistance and there were nationwide demonstrations against it. Many of the demonstrations were due to the fact that Americans felt the system was unfair. This was due to deferments based on family status and whether or not the person was in college. In order to help with these issues a new act called the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 was passed, but did little to stop anti-draft protests. The Military Selective Service Act expired in 1973, but President Carter reenacted it in 1980 and it is still in effect today. Today, the Selective Service requires all males to register when they reach the age of eighteen, but there has not been an induction through the Selective Service System since 1973.
Registration with the Selective Service has been restricted to males only. Females serving in the military have traditionally been banned from serving in combat roles. In 2015, the department of defense declared that these restrictions would be lifted in 2016. Congress however, is now faced with the decision of whether to change the Selective Service Act to include all females who are eighteen years old. This past June the Senate passed a bill that would require women to register for the draft as well. This bill has yet to be signed into law and further debate is expected as it makes its way through the House.
As for Ernst Schuchard, after his service he returned to San Antonio to work as an engineer at the Pioneer Flour Mill which was founded by is grandfather, Carl Guenther. The Guenther Family immigrated to Texas from Germany. After advancing to the position of Secretary and eventually to President at the flour mill, Schuchard began making detailed drawings and paintings of the Missions in San Antonio. Schuchard was involved in the research and reconstruction of the grist mill at Mission San Jose. Ernst Schuchard became a well-known artist in Texas. He died in San Antonio in 1972 and was buried at Mission Burial Park South.— By Kim Grossett. Edited by Joscelynn Garcia.