The World War II was a global fight that occurred between 1939- 1945. Majority of the world’s countries participated in the war including great power nations which resulted to formation of two rivalry great powers named the Allies and the Axis powers. The war first erupted in Europe after the Germans attacked Poland in September 1, 1939. During the initial periods of the war, the America did not participate in the wars until in December 8th, 1941 when Japan attacked their naval base at Pearl Harbour together with other military installation of the Americans, Dutch and British in Asia. The American engagement in the World War II caused massive social, political and economic changes on the home front between1940 and 1946.
The World War II caused great changes to the American social set up. Before the war, the American society had a defined culture on role of men and women. Besides, they had high rates of racial discrimination whereby, they denied public participation to African American society and other people of other origins. When the Japanese attacked in Pearl Harbour, America was quite unprepared for war and so their participation demanded adjustments to some of their social practices and believes. These changes included:
- Redefiningwomen roles- In 1941, omen voluntarily joined the armed forces in large numbers where about 350,000 women served in the military and more than 70 000 were navy and army nurses (Blakey 4).
- Decline in racial discrimination- when war begun, the United States army was segregated where the African American armies lived in troops where they worked and relaxed in isolated facilities guarded by American soldiers. These soldiers were also discriminated in duty assignment in that their work was to supply units but not engaging in combats. However, this behaviour took a new route in 1942 after one black cook, Doris Miller saved his white military captain by manning him and firing at the Japanese attacking aircrafts using a machine gun at Pearl Harbour until they left (Blakey, Pp. 8). These bravery of this soldier led to emergence of Tuskegee Airmen which was group of highly trained African-American combat pilots.
The home front also comprised of massive economic transformations. The war sunk the American economy into great depression since the massive volunteering of men and women into the army led to shortage of labour. These shortage demanded for solutions which included:
- Allowing immigration- President Roosevelt formed a Bracero Program which allowed Mexican immigration into the United States to work as labourers in the farms and in the ranches. This program increased the labour supply significantly since approximately four million braceros got to America between 1942- 1964 (Blakey 9).
- Rationing- in 1942, the government issued war ration books which ordered the Americans to purchase on the necessary commodities and recycle and conserve what they could(Blakey 13). The rationing process ensured that sufficient supply of raw materials to the military and also to civilians which ensured fair sharing of goods in America.
The home front also experience political transformation whereby the United States emerged to be one of the dominant superpowers influencing the political operations of other nations globally. These political transformation involved;
- End of traditional isolationism- Before war, the United States advocated for non- entanglement in the European and Asian conflicts and politics but emphasized on expanding and protecting its economic interest in Latin America.
- Beginning of internationalism- in 1945 the United States ended it political stand on isolationism and advocated for internationalism whereby it influenced the political, economic and social affairs of other nations(Blakey 15).
The World War II home front has significant transformation on the social, economic and political in the United States. Socially, the gender roles were redefined and racial discrimination in the military services reduced. Economically, immigration increases for labour supply and rationing implemented. Finally, the American politics shifted from traditional isolationism to internationalism.
Blakey, George T. Historians on the Home Front: American Propagandists for the Great War. University Press of Kentucky, 2014.
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