57th Generals and Commanders in N. Africa /Ennis Photo
57th Bomb Wing Headquarters
The "Greatest Generation" ... They came from all corners of our great country of America. From men, women, children, relatives, friends and complete strangers that had learned to exist at some point in their lives through the "Good Times" of 1910 through to the Stock Market Crash of 29 Oct. 1929... The "Great Crash" would put our Country in absolute and abject poverty as also the weather produced a drought that denied Americans of the most basic of items including adequate food.....
The "Great Depression". The drought caused entire communities to migrate to what seemed a better choice when in fact, none of the Country had been spared by the shortages, most especially the job market..... there simply was not one job to be had. The life span of a healthy male in the 1920's was just over 50 years, so many were already living with a household that listed the family, along with the nieces, nephews, aunts... as well as complete strangers that bedded down in the shed for a place to stay warm and worked for the meager food that they ate. TOUGH. . . the survivors learned to be tough. And durable. And inventive.
America did not believe she was ready to enter the War. WWII, a *new name* since WWI was the "Great War" and most thought there would not be another, we lost a lot of our fathers even though we were not in the Great War all that long.
School boys became patriotic and fired-up long before they were old enough and of those old enough, many did not even own a radio. Pearl Harbor .... Sunday 7 Dec. 1941, President Roosevelt would call it "A date which will live in infamy". The entire Country gathered around their radios to hear the news. Men and boys alike threw down their tools or papers or projects and joined up. . . . having to be aptitude tested for what position/job/duty they were best suited for.
ALL of course wanted to be Fighter Pilots! But what ever they all became, they all served and they all did their jobs for the good of overcoming EVIL. Much later we would discover that the Evil was a hundred times more than we could even have imagined.
Only months after Pearl Harbor, 18 April, 1942 the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders dropped their bombs on Japan in a daring and risky mission that practically guaranteed their not coming home.... the damage done was minimal but the effect was monumental..... it brought the enemy to their knees. They had thought they were invincible while the effect in America was that of immense Patriotism and goal oriented togetherness. Admiral Yamamoto would say that "they woke a sleeping giant and filled it with deadly resolve".
Henry Ford was famous for inventing the "car for every man". . . but the great invention was the assembly line with 'around the clock 8 hour shift system' that was brought back into our entire Country as the men prepared to serve and the women picked up the reigns and learned to plow while others babysat and cooked. Many became "Rosie, the Riveter" ... Yes, we also had some awesome Red Cross Nurses and plenty of private sector women who volunteered for dangerous duty... as well as our "USO Beauties" that traveled to the front line with Bob Hope and others to keep morale up.
**Our men learned the mechanics of War around the clock **. . . The Country was divided best for "ARMY Commands" and of course the Army Air Corps was born. The WAR is History now and there will always be debates on many events but the winning of that War brought Peace to the troubled world and safety to our minds.
The Federal Government actually made the 40 hour mandate in 1938 (Pre-war-production). Plenty of people would still work nearly around the clock throughout the war and after as our country needed almost everything from butter and nylons to nuts and bolts. America would never again return to a 66 + hour work week. OH, the "Week-end"? After 1938, Henry Ford pretty much invented "weekend trips" ...went on them and then wrote about it. "But we can thank the Labor Movement AND Management Jews. And Gentiles. And you may as well throw in God, since He came up with the whole "day of rest thing" in the 1st place ". End of quote.
It is 2011, 66 years after the end of WWII and we are still proudly honoring our "Greatest Generation". . . there is still time to glean the secrets and ideals of their wisdom and success. "For those who have served, Freedom has a taste - and a price - that the protected will never know" . (Author Unknown)
Written by Barbara Ennis Connolly, WWII 57th Bomb Wing Historical Researcher and Historian for the 319th and 321st Bomb Groups/ MTO, Oct. 2011