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Overview of World War II

The Homefront


Overview of World War II

Americans at home sacrificed while soldiers fought overseas. By the end of the war, more than 12 million American soldiers had joined or were drafted into the military. Widespread rationing occurred. For example, families were given coupons to purchase sugar based on the size of their families. They could not buy more then their coupons would allow. However, rationing covered more than just food - it also included goods such as shoes and gasoline.

Some items were just not available in America. Silk stockings made in Japan were not available - they were replaced by the new synthetic nylon stockings. No automobiles were produced from February 1943 until the end of the war to move the manufacturing to war specific items.

Many women entered the workforce to help make munitions and implements of war. These women were nicknamed "Rosie the Riveter" and were a central part of America's success in war.

Wartime restrictions were imposed on civil liberties. A real black mark on the American home front was the Executive Order No. 9066 signed by Roosevelt in 1942. This ordered those of Japanese-American descent to be removed to "Relocation Camps." This law eventually forced close to 120,000 Japanese-Americans in the western part of the United States to leave their homes and move to one of ten 'relocation' centers or to other facilities across the nation. Most of those relocated were American citizens by birth. They were forced to sell their homes, most for next to nothing, and take only what they could carry. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act that provided redress for Japanese-Americans. Each living survivor was paid $20,000 for the forced incarceration. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush issued a formal apology. However, nothing can make up for the pain and humiliation that this group of individuals had to face for nothing more than their ethnicity.

In the end, America came together to successfully defeat fascism abroad. The end of the war would send the US into a Cold War due to concessions made to the Russians in exchange for their aid in defeating the Japanese. Communist Russia and the United States would be at odds with each other until the downfall of the USSR in 1989.

]Part 1: Origins of World War II,   Part 2: The War in Europe,   Part 3: The War in the Pacific

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