the United States entered World War II after Pearl Harbor,
the entire country gathered its resources to create a unified
effort against the Axis powers. Men and machines were sent
all over the world to the various fronts. The home front
which provides the weapons, the supplies, the transportation,
the political and moral support, rarely gets equal credit
with the fighting fronts. But World War II required such
a massive build up in such a short time, the home-front
effort was as impressive as the fighting in Europe or the
Pacific. The Kansas City home front, was no exception.
Industrial Giant" Kansas City played a central, yet
little known, role in the war effort. We were already
a major transportation hub with men and materials flowing
both east and west. This naturally allowed other opportunities
shrewd lobbying, city administrators secured government
defense contracts from companies like Pratt & Whitney who
built airplane engines, and North American Aviation to build
the B-25 Bombers at Fairfax. Local companies eagerly shifted
gears and began producing war materials ranging from airplanes
and gliders, to landing craft, boats, steel tanks, gun stocks,
bullets, radio equipment, wire rope, tents, steel, batteries,
and so much more. Ultimately, 1 percent of every American
dollar went to firms in Jackson, Clay and Wyandotte Counties.
the Duration Kansas City civilians, although
with no immediate threat to the area, mobilized
to do their part in the war. Programs such as
the Red Cross blood drives, war rallies, war
bonds, rationing, Victory gardens; and Civilian
Defense programs educating people on black outs,
health issues, proving that Kansas City wholeheartedly
supported the war effort.
we had our share of people, women and minorities,
who went to work in the factories in place of
our fighting GIs: Rosie the Riveter and Winnie
the Welder. Kansas City learned to "do without,
make do and save pennies for war bonds."
Valuable Assets Finally, from our region we sent
'over there' our most valuable assets, the men and
women who willingly went into the service and dedicated
themselves to the American cause of liberty and justice
for all peoples, everywhere. But first we trained
them here at places like Fort Leavenworth, the Olathe
Naval Air Station, or Camp Crowder in Neosho, Missouri..
Flying fields rapidly became training grounds for
fledgling pilots. Universities added special programs
for the military.
Little Known Story Once America was fully
entrenched in every theater of battle, the heartland
was the recipient of prisoners of war, with
camps in Liberty, Lawrence and other areas.
Despite some opposition, they provided much
needed farm labor as the war trudged on.
scrapbooks and memories of the people who lived
it, we will tell the stories of personal triumphs
and tragedies, of miracles and milestones, of what
Kansas City did to help win the second world war.