As we all know, the “date that shall live in infamy” was on 07 December 1941. America changed forever, and we still feel its effects today. But what was it like immediately after the bombing?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (of whom I am related to…not to brag heheh) soon addressed Congress and thereafter declared war on Japan. Only only representative, the Pacifist Jeannette Rankin of Montana, objected. FDR also signed executive order 9066 to take Japanese residents and place them in internment camps. While we look back at this move with disgust, you must remember that during this time there was an intense hatred of anyone of Japanese heritage, and FDR was also helping to keep them protected from others in a way. But this still does not absolve this action.
All over the country the country’s young men were lined up to the brim with viable candidates to serve. There were seriously long lines outside of recruiting stations, and the military sure had their choice as to whom they would accept. This was completely different during Vietnam, where the armed forces were just trying to get just about anyone to sign a contract. But we also saw another post-Pearl Harbour enlistment surge right after 9/11. Even by the time I joined the Marines a few years later, they still had pick of the litter.
As America’s men went to war, our women went to work. This would be the first major time that you see a widespread and widely accepted time of women working out of the home. Even Marilyn Monroe found herself working in a factory for the war effort, where she would soon be discovered by David Conover.
Even the men who were labelled 4F still did their part. For instance, my grandfather was labelled 4F because of his bad colitis, but he still worked in a propeller factory. And those who did stay in the states to help with the war effort also helped out in another huge way: rationing.
These are my grandparents’ gas rationing stamps. The rationing in the U.S. spread to nearly everything – food, meats, gas, fabrics, metals, and women even had to forgo their beloved nylons for the war effort. But soon they were drawing lines on the backs of their legs to simulate the seams of stockings. You can also see how the fashions changed, as any way to use less fabric was encouraged. Skirts became a bit shorter, rarely were many pleats, ruffles, or any other “embellishments” used as in the past.
Victory gardens were a common occurrence that you could find at almost every house. It helped offset the war rationing for the house, and even helped to cut down on using your stamps. Using vegetables and the sort was common and thought of as very patriotic to helps our boys fighting overseas.
Life during WWII was certainly not easy at all, but you can sense a real camaraderie and patriotism in everyone that sadly is not longer present today. I think that is why I love this era so much, that there was so much humanity on the home front while there was so much bloodshed all over the world. It is such a fabulous and amazing time to learn about, and surely will pique any history or vintage lovers out there!