The United States entered World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, leading to major changes in the lives of all Americans.
The Task of Winning the War
Americans were scared about the possibility of an attack on the mainland United States. This worry made it easier for Americans to accept hardships due to the war, especially limits on gas, food, and clothes. Each family received stamps to buy staples such as meat, sugar, butter, and vegetables. The U.S. Office of War Information printed posters encouraging Americans to do their part to support war efforts, including collecting rubber and aluminum to be recycled into weapons and buying war bonds to help pay for the costs of war.
The Role of the American Worker
The U.S. military needed massive amounts of weaponry, including airplanes, tanks, and ammunition. While men joined the military and fought in the war, women went to work in factories and at jobs that only men used to do. The number of women in the workforce rose from 25 to 36 percent. One famous example of these women was “Rosie the Riveter,” who worked to build warplanes.
The Plight of Japanese Americans
Even though there were many Japanese Americans fighting in the U.S. military, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor many Americans suspected Japanese Americans of being disloyal to the country. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered officials to place Japanese Americans in “relocation” camps.
Baseball and the Battlefield
In 1942, the baseball commissioner asked President Roosevelt if baseball games should be suspended during the war. Roosevelt responded that baseball served an important purpose by boosting spirits and providing distractions during the war. Since so many professional baseball players ended up fighting in the war, players from the minor leagues got to play in the major leagues.
The Movies Go to War
The movies were an important source of information about the war front for Americans at home. Each movie started with a newsreel, showing events from the war. Animated cartoons featured stereotypical images of the enemy. Documentaries served as propaganda to promote the war efforts. Many movies had storylines about the war and promoted American heroism.
Patriotic Music and Radio Reports from the Frontline
Music became more patriotic as the war raged on. Songs about the military were popular. Radio provided news and information about the war. Famous musicians and comedians entertained the troops overseas and on military bases, and these performances were played on the radio. Radio dramas also focused on war stories.
Source: The U.S. Home Front During World War II
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