Indeed, the United States did help win the war and became a world power because of its efforts. But, even as that triumph is celebrated, one also come face to face with the ugly history of racial and ethnic segregation and discrimination during that time. However, where there was tragedy, as seen in the detention of Japanese Americans, there was also triumph, as exemplified by the social advances that many racial and gender minorities gained, which may not have come about if not for the war.
These concepts may be hard for students to grasp. Some may not even realize that the war took place during their grandparents, and great-grandparents lives. To that end, Ken Burns's and Lynn Novick's The War, debuting on September 23 on PBS, seeks to relate the everyday realities of living in the United States during World War II. In light of the staggering fact that nearly 1,000 World War II veterans die every day, it becomes even more important to record and remember their stories.
The four video excerpts from the film give a unique firsthand glimpse into the lives of everyday Americans and serve to highlight the "double victories" achieved during World War II. Not only did Americans prevail against tyranny abroad, but racial and gender minorities also achieved victories toward advancing social and economic equality.
- Video 1: "Connecting to World War II"
Sets the stage for The War and explains the mission behind its production. The narratives of triumph and tragedy are animated by the use of numerous oral histories throughout the film.
- Video 2: "Munitions Factories"
- Video 3: "Mobile Shipyards"
Excerpt from episode two shows one way in which men and women on the home front helped in the war effort.
Excerpt from episode three takes viewers to the shipyards of Mobile, Alabama, where increasing work opportunities for African Americans led to an increase in racial tensions, riots, and eventual segregation of the workforce.
- Video 4: "Made into an Enemy"
Excerpt from episode one focuses on the internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast after the signing of Executive Order 9066.