A Generation's Moment

By Kushlan, James P. | America in WWII, June 2005 | Go to article overview

A Generation's Moment


Kushlan, James P., America in WWII


1941 WAS A GREAT TIME TO BE AN AMERICAN. Big bands belted out sassy swing in dance halls, in towns as big as New York and as small as Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. Cars had curves, they were built of real metal, and gas was cheap. Cigarettes weren't bad for you, nor were red meat or carbs.

Fashion was in a golden age; even everyday clothes made people look good. Practically every man sported a broad-brimmed hat. Nylons and high heels were de rigueur for women, whose legs were objects of men's fond reverence. Most movies were still in black and white, but they packed a wallop of drama, comedy, music, and spectacle--complete with cartoons and newsreels--for less than a gumball costs today!

1941 Americans worked hard, families were close-knit, manners mattered, and faith was important. Sure, there were problems, challenges America had yet to face. But no challenge seemed too great for an America that was definitely on the upswing.

Just as everything really did seem to be "coming up roses," the warplanes of a rising empire appeared over Battleship Row in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor. 1941 ended with the shrill shock of infamy and war. But Americans jumped into action. All the restless energy of 1940s America had suddenly found its outlet: war.

Not just any war, mind you. Unlike most conflicts in our history, this one was brought on by a direct attack on the United States. It quickly became a two-pronged fight to halt the onslaught of the would-be overlords of Europe and Asia. …

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