On December 7, 1941, following the
Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days
later, after Germany and Italy declared war on it, the United States became fully engaged
in the Second World War.
U.S. involvement in the Second World War was quickly
followed by a massive mobilization effort. With millions of men and women serving overseas
in the nation's armed forces, most of those who
remained at home dedicated themselves to supporting the war effort in whatever means was
available to them. Women, who had worked as homemakers or had held jobs outside
military-related industries, took jobs in aircraft manufacturing plants, munitions plants,
military uniform production factories, and so on. As the need for steel and other
resources increased, American citizens participated in rationing programs, as well as
recycling and scrap metal drives. Americans also supported the war effort with their
hard-earned dollars by purchasing Liberty bonds. Sold by the U.S. government, the "war" bonds
raised money for the war and helped the bond purchasers feel they were doing their part
for the war effort.
The U.S. entry into the war helped to get the nation's economy back on its feet following the depression.
Although just ten years before jobs were very difficult to come by, there were now jobs
for nearly everyone who wanted one. With the creation of 17 million new jobs during the
war, workers were afforded the opportunity to pay off old debts, as well as to begin
saving some of their earnings.
Not all Americans remaining at home gained favorably from
the war. Fearing that Japan might invade the West Coast of the United States,
government rounded up thousands of Japanese Americans who lived
on the West Coast, and confined them to internment camps. By 1948 when the
internment program ended, thousands of Japanese, German
and Italian Americans, as well as dozens of Hungarian and Romanian Americans
had suffered as internees.
German Americans, and Italian
Americans were interned as were Hungarians, Romanians
On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered. After the atomic bomb
was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, and the
Second World War came to an end. The war cost the lives of more than 330,000 American
soldiers. Many more were permanently injured or maimed.
To find more documents on this topic in
American Memory, search with such
terms as internment camps, defense workers, atomic bomb, and the names of world
leaders (e.g., Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler).
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