Females played vital role in war effort
By Bonnie PrinsenMonday, July 2, 2001
This December will mark the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of the U.S.’s involvement in WW II. Because of this and other recent WWII anniversaries, and thanks in no small part to movies like Saving Private Ryan in 1998, and this year’s Pearl Harbor, a whole new generation is learning about WW II. The part that American women played in the war, both in the military and on the home front, has often been overshadowed by the stories of men.
Many are familiar with the image of "Rosie the Riveter", the symbol of women taking over jobs for men during the war. Women at the time were encouraged to take leave of their "traditional" roles and enter the work force to help the war effort. Munition factories and other industries were staffed by women. Many young, Midwestern women left home for the first time to go work in factories elsewhere, for example, California, or Detroit. Women also took over other traditionally male jobs, such as busdriver or civil service worker.
In contrast, for most of the war Germany staffed their munitions plants with POW’s, taking an official stance that women should stay at home to bear children. Germany discovered too late that the high morale of women factory workers would have been more effective than the motivation of POW’s. Historians maintain that Japan, too, only began utilizing women in the war effort when their country’s situation was desperate, and their fate irreversible.
For many American women, it was their first taste of being wage earners and of being valued in the marketplace. Despite arguably successful efforts to convince women to relinquish this newfound independence once the war was over, the seeds had been planted, and memories of their wartime service would leave women forever changed.Rationing
Ask someone what they remember about WWII, and you’re likely to hear "rationing." To free up resources for the war effort, families and individuals were issued ration stamps for such items as gasoline, sugar, and meat.
As a rural school teacher during the war, Catherine Sorom of Rushford, who taught at Meyer School in rural Rushford, acquired lasting memories of ration stamps. It was her job to distribute stamps in the area. Each time there were new ration stamps issued, Sorom would first put in a full day teaching grades 1-8, then di .....[Read the Rest]