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The Second World War In U. S. History And Memory By Mark A. Stole

1306 words - 5 pages

World War II was a global event that forever changed the world. From devastating events to heart wrenching stories, World War II bore witness to some of the most heinous acts against humanity. A debate exists over the differences between the history and the memory of the war. From historians to the way societies remember it, the war impacted everyone. Many argue that the United States entered the war for ulterior motives others remember its involvement as a necessity in order to prevent a more catastrophic outcome. Whether one remembers the war because they lived it or because they read about it differences of opinions still exist regardless of historical evidence or witness accounts.
In the article, “The Second World War in U. S. History and Memory” by Mark A. Stoler, the author addresses the differences between history and the memory of the war. The author discusses how historical hindsight of World War II drastically transformed the United Stated. Yet, during that time Americans misunderstood those transformations which resulted in them failing to comprehend what actually occurred was that their memory of the war diverged sharply from historical reality (Stoler, 2001). According to the author, not only did the United States emerge as a “Powerhouse” after its involvement in the war but also it served as a catalyst for an economical boost. In addition, the war also played a major role in the domestic struggle against racism, even though segregation still existed in the armed forces, and the black civil rights movement. The U.S. involvement in the war also served as a gateway for women to enter the workforce causing the war to become a watershed in women’s history. Yet, Americans dismissed domestic progress and focused more on other aspects of the war.
During the interwar years of 1940s and 1950s, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr gained notoriety as “the father of us all”. He lambasted both the general human and the specifically American quests for perfectibility and moral purity. Niebuhr believed that human lust for power as well as the need to possess power in order to do good in the world was a balancing act between good and evil. Although, Americans claimed to accept his conclusions, they did so in combination with a memory of the war so distorted and provincial that it subverted true understand of Niebuhr’s warnings (Stoler, 2001). Americans claimed that they have learned from the events of 1919-1945, but that memory was overshadowed by their focus on their role in defeating the Axis while minimizing the efforts or the roles their allies had. According to Stoler, this distorted memory of World War II also subverted a true understanding of Niebuhr’s warnings about the dangers of power.
After the U.S involvement in the war, American behavior was condemned by the children of the post war baby boom. They believed that the U.S. involvement in the war which was to stop communism was being dismissed with their actions in Vietnam. They concluded that...

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