American women of World War II

American women of World War II

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In honor of National Women’s Month, the understanding of what many women sacrificed is necessary to be grateful for what we have now. When World War II ended in 1945, over 16 million American men had been sent overseas to fight. The culture in America at the time was that men would go to work, and women would stay home; however, with so many men now gone, the women were tasked to step up and live a life they had never known before.

As the men helped with the war effort in the east, women on the home front worked in defense plants and volunteered for war-related organizations while managing their households. As the demand for public transportation in America grew, women even became streetcar “conductorettes” for the first time. According to Stephen Ambrose, formal American historian, soldier, and author, women became “proficient cooks and housekeepers, managed the finances, learned to fix the car, worked in a defense plant, and wrote letters to their soldier husbands that were consistently upbeat.”

Over 350,000 American women served in their own uniforms, volunteering for different war efforts such as Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) later renamed the Women’s Army Corps, the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), the Army Nurses Corps, and the Navy Nurse Corps.

Women went even further than volunteering. They also drove trucks, repaired airplanes, worked as laboratory technicians, rigged parachutes, served as radio operators, analyzed photographs, flew military aircraft across the country, test-flew newly repaired planes, and even trained anti-aircraft artillery gunners by acting as flying targets. Some women in uniform took office and clerical jobs in the armed forces in order to free men to fight. Women were even nurses in Normandy on D-plus-four, which was four days after D-Day.

Although they may not have been on the front lines, many women also gave their lives for their country at this time. According to the National WWII Museum, “Some women served near the front lines in the Army Nurse Corps, where 16 were killed as a result of direct enemy fire. 68 American service women were captured as POWs in the Philippines. More than 1,600 nurses were decorated for bravery under fire and meritorious service, and 565 WACs in the Pacific Theater won combat decorations.”

Without these brave women, America would not have been able to keep up with the axis powers technology, supplies, and military numbers. They helped pave the way for women in the workforce to be normalized and for modern society to further strive. The women of that generation have taught me the importance and responsibility of stepping up and fighting in any way possible when the time calls, even when I am forced down by society’s restrictions.

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