Essay on World War II
While wars were being fought overseas, battles of another kind were being fought at home. The U.S. homefront was working to be able to raise an army, provide soldiers with the necessary tools to fight while providing for everyone at home. The impacts that World War II caused would forever change America. Not everything was as simple as raising an army, however. Uniforms, weapons, and other equipment were needed in order for the United States to be able to fight.
As the U.S. had many resources, it had the capability to supply itself and other countries, but first, it would require many sacrifices and hard work on the people’s part. As the U.S. prepared for a possible total war, Americans were told to go without most of the things they had taken for granted, even things they needed in their daily life. The government rationed gas, clothing, and food, children looked for scrap metal, and women seized jobs in defense plants such as electricians and welders. People eagerly listened to radio reports, hoping for the good news of the war going on across the water. Sadly, Japanese Americans, although loyal to and born in the United States, had rights taken away as citizens.
As husbands, fathers, and brothers went off to war, family lives changed, as women were faced with new responsibilities and working. Those with family or friends overseas had to endure years of waiting before their loved ones finally came home. A significant effect was felt when many of the men who were in the workforce left to go off to war. With so many men going off to war, labor shortages started to make an impact on family life. Ordinarily, women worked for a few years after finishing their education before leaving their jobs to have a family.
However, after the war started, millions of women started joining the workforce, and the number of high school dropouts grew from 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 students because of all the jobs opening up. “Rosie the Riveters” became a popular term to describe a woman toiling in the defense industry. Although at first the idea of women and teens working was scorned, the women and teens soon showed that they were vital to the war effort. Their efforts paved the way for Women’s and Civil Rights Movements in the following decades. In order to find good-paying war jobs, many families moved to industrial centers, which quickly became extremely populated. These ‘boom towns’ often grew from several thousand people to over one hundred thousand during the war.
The increase in jobs helped pull the United States out of the Great Depression. As the threat of invasion grew, some people became volunteers to defend against attacks. The volunteers trained in how to use first aid, bomb removal, and fire protection, and led practice drills. Because of the fear of attack from Japan, blackout drills were especially common. At any moment, people would have to be constantly ready to turn lights out, close curtains, and disappear into the basement, making it hard for planes to see where the cities were in order to bomb them. Workers on the home front were not the only ones doing their part. Thanks to rationing, everyone had a chance to participate in the war effort. All Americans were encouraged to “conserve and recycle,” salvaging cans, bottles, paper, rubber, and other types of scrap material, which would later be turned into materials for war supplies.
Food, gas, and many other items were rationed. As a way to get around this, many Americans worked on victory gardens, where they grew their own vegetables as an attempt to work around rationing and the shortage of food. In 1945, about 20 million victory gardens were being used around the U.S., and approximately 40% of all vegetables eaten in the U.S. were grown in victory gardens. The central government launched a “Food for Victory” campaign, which encouraged people to maintain and produce as much food as possible. Citizens were encouraged to eat leftovers, instead of wasting food, and to grow their own food in “victory gardens” to help with food production. During the war, the U.S. government raised taxes to help pay for the war costs. The government also sold “war bonds,” which people could buy, allowing the government to borrow some of their money.
During World War II, the United States used propaganda to unite the country and to encourage people to join the war effort. The U.S. government was not into the idea of propaganda at first, so they adopted the ‘strategy of truth,’ which provided a way to give information to the public without twisting the news. However, newspapers soon convinced the government to use propaganda, and soon, propaganda was everywhere. The United States spread propaganda in as many ways as possible, except for television. Although televisions have already been invented, they were usually not very common in households until after the war. Propaganda was spread mainly through the use of leaflets, books, movies, newspapers, and especially radio and posters. An especially popular way of spreading propaganda was through posters. Posters were used to encourage Americans to conserve, reuse, and recycle, and to do many other things as well.
By the end of World War II, over 200,000 different poster designs were in use. Listening to the radio was the main way of finding out news and entertainment for most Americans throughout the war. People became dependent on radio updates about what was happening overseas, even if they did not have family or friends at war.