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Studies on the Second World War have yielded varied perspectives; according to Erdelja, “there is no other experience that was more crucial to the development of the U.S. and Europe in the 20th century than the Second World War” (Erdelja, 2009, p. 1). The war marked the struggle for social and political freedom for the entire world.
The consequences of the war were characterized by chaos, which broke human bonds, destroyed homes and communities, and uprooted foundations of societies. From today’s perspective, World War II was more than the series of battles and diplomatic negotiations, which are widely studied today (Royal Air Force 94).
This paper will discuss the World War II in the light of the U.S. history. The paper will describe the role that the war played in shaping the U.S. government and its policies. The lessons learned due to the U.S. engaging in the war are also highlighted.
World War II and U.S. History
World War II was the most gruesome epoch ever in the U.S. history. It was characterized by struggles, deaths of many citizens, financial constrains, damaged property and many other challenges in the country. The number of deaths between 1939 and 1945 was estimated to be more than 55 million.
The war began on September 1, 1939 when Poland was invaded by Germany. It spread out to the entire world with almost 50 countries taking part in the war and men and women fighting in almost every part of the world.
After the war became rampant, Americans became divided on whether to participate or to stay out of it completely. However, their hopes and desires were for their allies to win the war while they remained calm and isolated from the war.
While some wished the U.S. could avoid the war at all costs, there was a group of interventionists that demanded the government to do all it could within its power to help the allies of U.S.
It was then that the government changed its policy from being neutral on issues related to the war into being prepared through expanding its military forces and later proceeded to support its allies. The president then made the U.S. to be an arsenal supplier; the U.S. started by supplying war materials to its allies (Teachers Guide 1).
World War II was a turning point to the lives of Americans and in the history of the U.S. In 1944, the three great allies came together to invade Germany. In the pacific, the Americans drove the Japanese forces back. The devastating bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed in August 1945; this made Japanese government to surrender (The Choices Program 4).
Impact of the Second World War II to the U.S.A
World War II had an unalterable impact on the US history and in our present life. The period was characterized by a vast number of families lost through the death of young men and women, those who became crippled, mass deportation, conflicts in cultures, religions, confusion and outright fears.
Although the war was away from United States, it had a huge impact on the American society. Undeniable, it was a gruesome time in history and the many incidences from the war presented numerous lessons to be learnt.
To start with, its leaders transformed U.S. to be an arsenal and produced vast numbers of war materials. Prior to the involvement in war, its economic sectors such as industries and agriculture had been mobilized to support factories which manufactured weapons. America’s business had become larger with its federal government expanding its power (Ayers, Gould and Oshinsky 766).
The war brought about a 10% shift of Americans to war production centers. Japanese-Americans were evicted from their homes and were incarnated to relocation centers whilst the African Americans demanded full citizenship.
More women were employed into the armed forces and in the factories which were manufacturing weapons (Ayers, Gould and Oshinsky 766). The World War II cost the U.S. approximately $304 billion. The U.S. obtained this money through deficit spending, lending and selling of war bonds. Its debt is said to have skyrocketed from $49 billion to $259 billion in 1945, which remained unsettled until 1970 (Schug 142).
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Other challenges encountered were the concentrations of people in weapon manufacturing centers. The influx resulted to strained community resources. The overcrowding of migrants into war material producing centers made them to shelter in substandard woodsheds and in trailer parks with inadequate sanitation facilities.
This resulted to high prevalence of communicable diseases, including scabies, ringworms, and tuberculosis among others. With the concentration of people in the centers, confrontation arose. Historians have claimed that by 1943, there were almost 250 racial conflicts. Social evils were also on the rise, for example, African Americans roamed in the city attacking police and dragging white passengers off street cars. There were increased criminal activities which also led to a considerable loss of lives at the home front (Schug 142).
Families break ups were on the increase. It was estimated that approximately 3 million families separated; it was estimated that 16 families out of 1000 were separated by 1940 with the rate almost doubling to 27 in 1000 families by 1944. More so, the number of unmarried women rose from 73 per 1000 in 1939 to 93 by 1942.
There were fears of people getting into marriage as spouses were being sent to battle fields. Birth rates also increased from 2.4 million in 1939 to 3.1 million in 1943. Majority of which were described as “good bye babies”; who were conceived for family continuation incase the father died at war (Anon 1).
Another challenge was increased and rise of social immorality. Much of the immoral behavior that had become rampant was not evident during the peace times. The war period also witnessed increased opportunities for gay affairs, and same-sex relationships; gay communities in cities such as San Francisco became common.
Briefly, the war time swapped traditional gender roles where men lost their roles as bread winners in the family. During this time, women worked to feed their families at home whilst most men defended their nation away from the U.S. (Norton et al. 749). It be should be noted that there were also women who were directly involved in the battle field.
Importance of World War II in Americans’ History
World War II marked a major turning point for the World history. It was one of the major events in the world that should never be repeated. This event marked the importance of teaching the future generations the impact of engaging in war and the many lessons learnt from the mistakes committed.
Knowledge of the World War II helps one to understand how the contemporary society was developed; knowledge necessary in laying the foundation for tomorrow’s generation.
Studying history helps the students to become good citizens and to have knowledge of the past events together with lessons learnt from the mistakes committed in the past. In learning about World War II, students understand the impacts of participating in such events. This way, graduates will perfectly suit to the U.S. society and its dynamic requirements from the citizens (World War II 4).
The significance of World War II includes the end of dictatorship ruling in Asia and Europe. America would have been surrounded by enemies had Germany and Japan won the war. More so, the era ushered in the Atomic age where peaceful use of atomic and nuclear knowledge became of importance.
Most importantly, the war brought up the need for establishing effective world organizations that would help in solving disputes between nations thereby, mitigating future wars re-occurring. This led to the formation of United Nations with the aim of resolving disputes between nations peacefully (United States History 1).
World War II came to an end with depression in most of the most powerful nations. The war shaped the U.S. history by making it the most dominating country as most of the powerful countries had been ruined economically. The Office of scientific Research and Development led to inventions and improved commodities such as jet engines and other war materials.
The war also placed the U.S. among the most powerful nations. However, it is undeniable that World War II was the most expensive war in history. It is estimated that the cost of the war totaled $2 trillion, and the property damage was about $239 billion with the United States spending 10 times than it had spent in the World War I.
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Norton et al. A people and a nation: History of United states. Boston, MA: Cengage learning, 2011. Print.
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