Memorial Day is celebrated this month
and I’m think of my forebears living through the World Wars . . .
My Grandfather Henry Longenecker and
my Father Ray Longenecker
Both registered for the draft during one of two world wars
Grandfather Henry during World Wars I
And my Father Ray during World War II
Each of my forebears were required to register for the draft for the United States of America, called the Selective Service.
My memoir Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl gives a nod to their stance of opposition to war
Excerpt from Chapter 2, “The Newlyweds”
My dad held to the Mennonites’ opposition to war and probably thought of himself as patriotic. Perhaps the disconnect between the patriotism of those who took up arms and my father’s pacifism could be explained by his first allegiance to the church and its doctrine of nonresistance, which prohibited members from going into the military because it conflicted with the scriptural teaching of “love and overcoming evil with good.” Nevertheless, my dad and his father Henry eventually contributed scrap metal in the effort to defeat Hitler.
My nephew Austin Fairfield discovered the certificates of draft registration below, researching his own ancestry. The War Production Board acknowledged my grandfather’s contribution of scrap metal to the War effort during World War II when the defeat of Nazism seemed to override his position of non-resistance held by the Mennonite Church.
My grandfather Henry Longenecker circa 1914
Henry Longenecker’s draft card, World War I, 1914-1919
My father Ray Longenecker. October 1940
Ray M. Longenecker’s draft card, World War II, 1939-1945
Grandpa Henry’s draft card indicated four choices for race: White, Negro, Oriental and [American] Indian, I suppose referring to four broad resignations: Caucasian, African, Asian, and native American, a very narrow interpretation to many 21st century readers.
On the face of it, my Dad’s draft card offers no option for “race.” And there are cross-outs which I cannot explain. However, I notice my father’s very elegant, highly ornate printing of his name, while his signature is very much as I remember it. Note, too, his birthday occurs this week in May more than 106 years ago, and his employment registers as “For Father,” a farm implement dealer.
In addition, to my father’s position as a conscientious objector to war, the government may also have considered agriculture an essential service.
* * *
The 2020 Census, taken amidst the global pandemic, mind you, specifies an elaborate array of racial identities cited below, not just the four specified on my grandfather’s draft card, circa 1910. (The information below is an abridged page. You can find the full text here.)
The 2020 Census asked a series of questions about you and each person who lives with you. When responding, you were asked to record the race of each person living in your home on April 1, 2020.
We understand you might have had questions about providing this information. Here were some of the guidelines for responding:
- Your answer to this question should be based on how you identify. Each person can decide how to answer.
- You are free to choose where to report your identity and which boxes to mark, or not to mark.
- You are not required to mark a checkbox category in order to enter a response in one of the write-in areas. You may respond by entering your specific identity or identities in any of the write-in response areas on the race question.
The category “White” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Polish, French, Iranian, Slavic, Cajun, and Chaldean.
Black or African American:
The category “Black or African American” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, and Somali. The category also includes groups such as Ghanaian, South African, Barbadian, Kenyan, Liberian, and Bahamian.
American Indian or Alaska Native:
The category “American Indian or Alaska Native” includes all individuals who identify with any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. It includes people who identify as “American Indian” or “Alaska Native” and includes groups such as Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Traditional Government, and Nome Eskimo Community.
The category “Asian” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese. The category also includes groups such as Pakistani, Cambodian, Hmong, Thai, Bengali, Mien, etc.
There are individual Asian checkboxes for people who identify as one or more of the following:
- Asian Indian
- Other Asian (for example, Pakistani, Cambodian, and Hmong)
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander:
The category “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” includes all individuals who identify with one or more nationalities or ethnic groups originating in Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. Examples of these groups include, but are not limited to, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Tongan, Fijian, and Marshallese. The category also includes groups such as Palauan, Tahitian, Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Saipanese, Yapese, etc.
There are individual Pacific Islander checkboxes for people who identify as one or more of the following:
- Native Hawaiian
- Other Pacific Islander (for example, Tongan, Fijian, and Mashallese)
Some Other Race: If you do not identify with any of the provided race categories, you may enter your detailed identity in the Some Other Race write-in area.
Note: The April/May 2021 issue of AARP magazine showcases Asian and Pacific Islander celebrities and the heroes who inspired them. Find the article HERE.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. ~ Revelation 22:2 KJV
Did your father or other relatives serve during any wars in this or the previous century?
What do you make of the designations of race, shown on the draft card or in the recent census?