Madelyn Ray

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Madelyn Ray

The patriotic United States of World War II had every state working to help the war effort. Each state made its own special contribution to a demanding time of sacrifice and hardship. The war took a toll on every American living through the war, and the people of Delaware were no exception.

War requires plenty of men and supplies. As Uncle Sam recruited staggering amounts of men to enlist in his army, their places of employment sorely missed their labor efforts. Approximately 8,500 Delawareans were either signed up to fight or drafted to fight in the first year of the war. Women and children stepped up to the plate to try and make up for the absence in labor. For example, an asparagus crop in Sussex County was reaped by the hands of school children from the city of Wilmington and Sussex County in April via two-week shifts that rotated for the students in order to allow them to keep up with their schooling.

Along with new workers, new defense contracts altered the course-work of many production lines. A year prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, the DuPont Company released its nylon product to the market. Once the war commenced, the production of nylon and other products changed to benefit the war effort. In the end, the company would produce more than the total amount of explosives that were used in all of World War I. Farmers were asked to change their crops to try and meet shortages on the market. Shipyards in Delaware experienced a revival as the demand for war vessels grew. All of these changes, enacted to help the boys win overseas.

It is only appropriate, then, for Delawareans to hold a special place in their hearts for a war that impacted them so greatly. My appreciation for WWII history as it is today really stemmed from my participation in National History Day. I would not have learned as much as I have about the matter and developed such a grand appreciation for this specific chapter in history. Perhaps, this is the best way to go about memorializing Delaware WWII history in the eyes of young people such as myself. I would be very excited to see a few WWII special prizes introduced to the Delaware National History Day competition. At the state level, there exists a few “special” prizes that I learned about during the awards ceremony. These could possibly create incentive to create a WWII-driven History Day project if they were announced or advertised right at the beginning of the project season. National History Day definitely made an influence on my view of history, especially related to WWII. I would be glad to see it have the same effect on others.