ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — When Americans think about World War Two, most of them focus on the horrors that happened overseas. However, it drastically changed America’s home front as a government, a nation and culture.
Right now, as we are facing one of the greatest national struggles we have had to confront since the second world war, historians say that taking a look back is our best bet for going forward.
America in the mid-20th century was broken. Americans had lived through war, disease, federal tyranny, domestic terrorism, organized crime and, to top it off, a Depression that impoverished over 20 percent of the population.
Americans were as divided as ever when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941–an event that shocked us into unity.
We had no choice but to work together and build up an “arsenal of democracy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it.
Within the next year, our military skyrocketed in numbers as 1 out of every 10 American signed up for active military duty. WWII Veteran Harry Krise recalls signing up at just 17:
“We went down in May before we ever graduated,” said Krise, “a whole bunch of us went to Altoona and signed up to get into service.”
Americans who didn’t go to fight helped from home. Mothers, children and seniors all rushed to the factories and formed assembly lines to help with wartime production.
The sacrifices made back then are not so different from the ones we make now, historians argue.
As a nation, we’re being asked to stay home. Business owners who are forced to close, or repurpose their facilities, are in their own right soldiers drafted to “the cause.”
Although the cause now is much different, and less black and white, it still has the same value. Americans are fighting one thing, together. Just like World War Two, the impact of this fight has the potential to change life as we know it.
America might be as divided now as it was during the mid-20th century. However, if Americans were able to pull together and make sacrifices 75 years ago, there is nothing stopping us from doing the same to overcome this pandemic with everything we know now.