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Assignment World War II demonstrated an exceptionalism by Americans to pull together in times of crisis. As Americans men (and women – although in support not combat roles) joined the military, many at home eagerly sought jobs in the defense and manufacturing industry. Industrial, factory, and agricultural work that had been stagnant during the Great Depression now began operating at full capacity, turning from consumer goods to military production. However, the “can do” spirit of the war era also highlighted inequalities, racial divides, and gender discrimination that had always existed in the American workforce. Further, the interment of Japanese-Americans during the war demonstrated the continuing racist nature of the nation, as a whole. In the 21st century we either view the war years through rose-colored glasses or the lens of realism. The role of the FEPC raised the ongoing issue of what the government should or should not do to compensate groups for past wrongs and current injustices. Furthermore, given the racial discussions across the country this past year (and decade, and century, etc.), it is apparent that these issues are alive a deserves frank discussion in historical perspective. How can we learn from history? Discussion Question What are some links you can pull out from the past year’s Covid-19 crisis, racial protests, and World War II? What inequalities of life were made apparent by these crisis? Think about things like rationing, military and political power expanding, racial inequities, public shamming and hording, etc. How have we as a nation learned from history (WWI)? Or not? As a historian, what lessons should the future learn from 2020?


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