How WWII Changed California & How California Changed The War: A California Connected Special Presentation

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While World War II affected every community in the United States, no state was as affected by it as California, "fast forwarding it into futurity," in the words of historian Kevin Starr. "California At War" will connect California's past to its present, and will reveal that many of the opportunities and challenges of today ahve their roots in California's war years. The documentary has five main themes:

  • The War At Our Doorstep
    After Pearl Harbor, Californians feared that their coast would be next. They were right. In the weeks following December 7, 1941, American lumber schooners, oil tankers, cargo ships and refineries were torpedoed or shelled by submarines of the Japanese Imperial Navy.
  • The War Against Ourselves
    Prejudice wasn't new in California, but in the name of "patriotism", it reached new heights. Best known is the internment of more than 100,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in camps like Manzanar and Tule Lake.
  • The War Machine
    California was in many ways the center of the American war effort. During the War years, a large number of ships and aircraft were built in the state, using nearly half of the 70 billion dollar defense budget in California, and also creating the military-industrial complex that thrived until the end of the Cold War.
  • Life In The Homeland
    The War changed the home front -- economically, militarily, and socially. During the War, 43% of workers in aviation plants were women, as was 27% of the shipbuilding workforce. Defense companies became "social progressives", as a result.
  • After The War
    More than a million soldiers shipped out from California ports -- a great many came back to the state, to stay. In the end -- without California, its people, its resources, and its industries -- World War II could have been lost. And, without that war, Calfornia people, resources and industries wouldn't be what they are today. This documentary tells that story.

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