Veterans recap war experiences

Julia Capaldi, Staff Writer

World War II began in 1939, it was not until 1941 that the United States joined the war after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The war began with Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland, Hitler was planning to take over the world and rid the world of Jews, and anyone else who didn’t fit his idea of a perfect race. The life Americans know today is much different than what life was like for Americans during the War.
“I was 10 when the war broke out and 14 when it ended. We had air raid warnings, they were sirens, they [United States Government] were all training us in case we got hit. Whenever you heard the warning siren everybody had to be inside, all lights off, and especially at night even if somebody lit a cigarette outside they [the bombers] could see that from the air” Harriet Capaldi said.
The air raid warning drills became a part of Americans’ everyday lives. Civilians were constantly reminded of the importance of having all lights off when the air raid sirens rang. A burning candle can be seen up to 30 miles away in the dark. Any sign of light could give away a town and cost entire neighborhoods of innocent civilians their lives.
“They had black curtains they’d use at the boardwalk so that the enemy ships couldn’t see” Capaldi explained.
In part of the conservation efforts, rationing came into effect. Food and gas was divided amongst citizens in order to save fuel and food for the war efforts. Families were issued ration books and would have to live off the food and fuel that had been given to them. Many people had victory gardens where they would grow food to send away to the troops.
“It was hard to get butter and sugar, you had to stand in line for long periods of time. Cigarettes, cause my father smoked, we had to stand in line for them. The butter line, my mother used to make three of us go stand in line cause she liked to use butter and you were only allowed one pound each” Capaldi said.
Capaldi used to write letters to her friend in England, during the war mail was monitored. The United States government would read the letters being sent and black out any information that was censored. They didn’t want any information about the war to get into the hands of the enemy.
“They always told us ‘the slip of a lip can sink a ship’” Capaldi recalled.
While many of the men were away at war, women worked in industries, such as the metal factory, that were a man’s job at the time in order make materials that were needed for the war. Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of women going to work in these industries.
“A lot of women got their independence then because they were on their own and were feeding their families.” Capaldi said.
Even the children took part in the war effort. Schools would have the students make supplies to be sent over to war.
“At school I would knit little squares that were camo colored and they would sew them together to make blankets and send them over to the troops. When I was 12, I worked in a hospital making eye sponges that they would send over to the soldiers. We would also help harvest the crops in the gardens” Capaldi said.
The radio became a huge outlet where President Franklin Roosevelt would broadcast important information and connect to the American people. Roosevelt managed to bring the country together and calm many despite the fact that there was a war going on.
“We were scared but our president, President Roosevelt, he made everybody feel so secure, like that it could never happen to us” Capaldi explained.
Over 60 million people were killed during World War II, that was approximately 3% of the world’s population at that time. Many of the American that were sent over were very young. Of those lives over 40,000 were American casualties. Many Americans had family and friends that were in the war. Even for those who weren’t fighting, everyone took part in helping the war effort. For American citizens, their lives revolved around war.