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Remembering The Good War

Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Thomas Saylor

Publication Year: 2005

World War II was the defining event for a generation of Americans. Remembering the Good War tells the stories of over one hundred Minnesotans—ordinary people who rose to duty at an extraordinary moment in our past. Here soldiers and sailors, housewives and farmers, “Rosies” and “Joes” tell what it was like to be swept up in history. Betty Wall Strofus of Faribault recalls how she discovered a love for flying and joined the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program to serve stateside during the war. Lyle Pasket of St. Paul marvels that he was only seventeen when his cruiser, the USS Indianapolis, was torpedoed en route to the Philippines. After three days without food or drink in shark-infested waters, he was one of only 317 sailors rescued. Paratrooper Frank Soboleski of International Falls recounts how he depended on north woods hunting skills to keep himself alive during battle in the Netherlands. Schoolteacher Vivian Linn McMorrow remembers with quiet intensity the brief time she shared with her husband Ralph Gland, who was killed in France during the second year of their marriage. From the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the excitement of recruits leaving the farm for the first time to the horrors of the battlefields of Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, Remembering the Good War pays homage to the generation of Minnesotans who were forever transformed by World War II. Their voices—honest, emotional, and resolute—remind us of a time of sacrifice and courage.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-xvii

World War II—which began in Asia in 1937, spread to Europe by 1939, and ended in 1945-was arguably the transforming event of the twentieth century, fundamentally altering power structures and unleashing forces few foresaw when the war began. This book paints a representative picture of the different ways women...

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Acknowledgments [Includes Maps]

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pp. xix-xxiii

During the interviewing and research for and writing of this book, I received invaluable assistance from a number of people and organizations. I am pleased to have this opportunity to thank them. Major financial contributions that made this work possible were provided by the Minnesota Historical Society; the Archie D. and...

Title Photo

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pp. 1

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War’s Beginning: Memories of and Reactions to 7 December 1941

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pp. 3-25

Military conflicts dominated world events in the five years before 1941—a civil war in Spain; the Italian attack on Ethiopia; the Japanese invasion of China; the German conquest of much of Europe. But a strong sense of isolationism contributed to the United States’ officially neutral stance, even though relations with...

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War’s Broadening Horizons: New Experiences, New Locations

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pp. 26-71

The United States simultaneously fought in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific during World War II; to meet these extensive commitments, the military expanded tremendously. From a December 1941 force of approximately 2.1 million (in the Army, Navy,Marine Corps, and Coast Guard), the military grew to more than 12 million by mid...

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War Experienced: Minnesotans on the Home Front

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pp. 72-120

Government and business cooperated to mobilize American industry for the war effort. Almost overnight, companies large and small retooled their production lines to manufacture everything required to fight a modern war. The big automobile firms, for example, produced tanks and other military vehicles; smaller companies made...

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War Experienced: Military Service in Europe and the Pacific

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pp. 121-176

During World War II, millions of men and women in locations around the globe were subjected to the emotionally intense, oftentimes horrifying experience of combat. Those who share their memories on these pages fought in many places: in Germany’s bombed-out cities, in a submarine hundreds of feet under the ocean’s...

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War’s Impacts: The Human Side

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pp. 177-226

World War II forced men and women, whether civilians or veterans, to confront a wide assortment of situations and to make necessary adjustments. Two very different perspectives have already been presented: first, the memories of those who remained on the Home Front, living and working as civilians, and second, those of...

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War’s End: 1945 as End and Beginning

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pp. 227-266

In May 1945, nearly six years after unleashing war on Europe with an attack on Poland, Germany surrendered unconditionally and Allied forces took control of the shattered country. The Pacific war dragged on, however, with no such end in sight. This increasingly violent theater of war—American casualties for the period mid-1944...

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War’s Legacy: Coming Back, Going Back, Reflecting Back

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pp. 267-298

In 1945, American society sped ahead after nearly four years of war. Prosperity and conformism became benchmarks of the 1950s, and difficult memories from the World War II years could drift into the past. After all, the U.S. mainland suffered no tangible destruction during the war, and its physical and psychological casualties remained...

Further Reading

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pp. 299-300

List of Interviewees

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pp. 301-302


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pp. 303-312

E-ISBN-13: 9780873516952
E-ISBN-10: 0873516958
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873516051
Print-ISBN-10: 0873516052

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 50 b&w photos, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1