World War Two was a major part of the twentieth century. Spanning years, this war affected the United States in many ways. Many men signed up for military duty and they played a large role in winning the role. The contributions of those on the home front should be noted as well. The United State's productivity was a great asset to the Allied Powers. This productivity was the result of the hard work of those on the home front. Women, in particular, played more of an active role in the war effort for World War Two than they had in past wars. Many worked in factories or in other jobs that were predominantly held by men. Though it was not well liked, rationing was helpful to the war effort because raw materials with which to make supplies were in high demand. And, there was much to worry about on the home front. Citizens needed to be thrifty to manage their ration stamps and gasoline. They also needed to worry about the air raid drills which happened often during the course of World War Two. Rationing, air raid drills, and the new role of women in the work force all had interesting effects on American society during and after the war.
Women played a large and important role in the war effort. Many women worked in factories. Though women often filled the same jobs as men, they were often treated unequally. Women were, in most cases, paid less than men who did the same work. They were sometimes discriminated against, but after a while, employers found that women could do most work better than men.
Women held many types of jobs. Some jobs they held included defense plant workers and other jobs formerly held by men, including jobs as lumberjacks and jobs in the radio, newspaper, and stock exchange industries. Women who worked in defense plants were often referred to as Rosies, after production mascot, Rosie the Riveter. "The story of these home-front industrial warriors is relatively unknown compared to that of the soldiers who fought overseas. The women made sure the war machine didn't grind to a halt, but when the war was over, most of them went back to their prewar lives and didn't talk about it." says Judy Hart, superintendent of the historical park(Eaton).
Another important role that women had in the war effort was as WASPs. WASPs, or Women's Airforce Service Pilots, The WASPs were formed in August of 1943 and existed for over a year, until they were disbanded on December 20, 1944. 25,000 women applied for the WASPs, but only 1,830 were accepted for training. Out of those 1,830 accepted for training, only 1,074 women graduated to active status. WASPs had many duties including pilot instructors, target tug pilots, glider tow pilots, ferry pilots, and transport pilots(Kamps).
Rationing was a very important part of the war effort. The materials saved by rationing went towards making equipment for the soldiers overseas. Rationing was important because production was one of the United State's biggest assets during the war, but not many people liked it(Hoehling).
Gasoline rationing caused a lot of controversy. Citizens were issued different levels of cards. Most were limited to three gallons a week, but people like doctors and firemen had special gas cards with which they got unlimited gasoline. Some congressmen also got their hands on the unlimited gasoline cards. This made civilians angry. Many drivers tried to cheat the card system.
Lots of other items were also rationed. Among these rationed items were rubber, burlap, paper, glass eyes, sugar and butter. Cigarettes, too, were in limited supply.
Air raid drills were a part of war time life. They were held because people were afraid of being bombed and they needed to have a plan of action in case that the bombing actually happened. When the sirens went off, everyone knew what to do. If a drill happened during the day, everyone would go inside, to designated safe zones if they were in a commercial building. If a drill came during the night, everyone went inside and pulled down the blinds. No one was allowed out on the streets during the drills. If you were outside during an air raid drill or if your house had light showing through the window, a warden would give you a warning, or if it was a repeated offense, he could arrest you(Greek).
The wardens had a simple, but potentially dangerous, job. They had to patrol their neighborhood when an air raid drill had started. If they saw a person on the streets or if there was a house from which lights were showing, the warden would have to deal with them. They could arrest people for disobeying the rules, but most of the time the warnings were effective. People would cooperate with the wardens because they were scared of what was happening and because they knew that this was for real. Most of the families had a family member in the military or knew someone who did(Greek).
The wardens were selected by public officials to do this job. When they were picked, they had to attend class to learn what to do as an air raid warden. This class included instruction on what to do about people who would not obey, and training on what streets to patrol and how. When the sirens went off, the wardens would go on patrol. They had to wear special caps and armbands to signify their positions. They also carried long flashlights to help them see, because with all of the lights out or covered, it was very dark out(Greek).
The life of civilians during World War Two was affected by rationing, air raid drills, and women in the work force. Each of those things had a profound impact on American society for years to come. Women who worked in factories and other places during the war sometimes continued to work even after the war was over. Air raid drills
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