War on Three Fronts: Europe, the Pacific, and at Home 


On September 1, 1939, Germany launched an invasion of Poland, the event that started the Second World War. While the United States remained neutral, it was committed to aiding its allies in Europe, although America would enter the war after the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. For two years, the United States would hop from island to island in the Pacific, from Midway to Guadalcanal, while it formulated a plan to fight the Germans in Europe. In November 1942, the Allies launched Operation Torch, an invasion of North Africa, which was the first involvement of US troops against Germany. After its success, the Allies set their sights on Sicily, launching an invasion in July of 1943. ​

Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

              -President Franklin D. Roosevelt​

While the war was being fought in Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific, the military was in desperate need of one thing: men. To facilitate this, the United States implemented the draft, a system of compulsory enlistment for able-bodied men to fight in the war. The initial draft was implemented in 1940, the first peacetime draft in American history, and several more would begin throughout the course of the war. To maintain morale, President Roosevelt called for the creation of the United Service Organizations, a non-profit charity focused on providing entertainment to American troops across the country and overseas.​

Women working at a munitions factory in Manitowoc, WI. (Circa 1944) University of Wisconsin–Madison Library . 

Draft card. Ancestry.com. 


With more and more of the male working class being drafted into service, the home front needed people to fill its workforce and support the war effort. Women took up many of the jobs typically performed by men, working in manufacturing jobs for everything from bullets to tanks and aircraft to help the soldiers on the front line. They would plant victory gardens to supplement their rations, freeing up food for the government to ship overseas. And in desperate need of a morale boost, the branches of the Armed Forces replaced the members of their military bands with women, officially enlisting women into the military for the first time in US history​