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Tag Archives: military history

Susan Kaplan, Senior Reporter and Host of All Things Considered, New England Public Radio

“…Out of order we created chaos. Initially that chaos bred an organization called Al Qaeda in Iraq. But in place of Al Qaeda in Iraq we got this new entity called ISIS. I think it is a fair statement that were the US to have not invaded Iraq in 2003 ISIS simply would not exist today.” —Historian, former Army Colonel and Vietnam War veteran Andrew Bacevich.[1]

I’m a public radio reporter with a passion for covering veterans and the military. Newly acquired knowledge from graduate work in the UMass Amherst history department has woven into my journalism, for the better.

Interviewing authors goes with my job. Andrew Bacevich’s life trajectory has taken him from West Point to Vietnam, Army Colonel to Boston University professor. This storehouse of experience gives his arguments and analysis on war and the military bricks and mortar credence. Bacevich has walked the walk.

Like many other veterans I’ve interviewed, he seldom speaks and never boasts about his service. We spoke on Wednesday, April 13. I was at New England Public Radio in Springfield, Massachusetts. Bacevich, on a book tour, spoke from a hotel room in Atlanta. In our interview Bacevich said, “The US effort to use military power in an effort to somehow fix the greater Middle East pre dates 9/11 by 20 years.” This point is emphatically illustrated at the start of his newest book, America’s War For the Greater Middle East: A Military History.

<img class="wp-image-646 size-large" src="https://umasshistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/bacevich-cover.jpg?w=545" alt="Andrew J. Bacevich, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. New York: Random House, 2016.” width=”545″ height=”812″> Andrew J. Bacevich, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. New York: Random House, 2016.

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Rob Wilson, Consultant, Springfield Armory NHS

As the U.S. military was winning key battles during World War II, women and people of color working in American defense industries achieved different kinds of victories. Records from the Springfield Armory, in Springfield, Mass., attest to their workplace breakthroughs. Founded in 1794, the federally-run Armory made military weaponry and was the area’s largest WWII defense manufacturer. Before the war, one in ten of its workers were women (mostly secretarial) and three percent were black (practically all assigned menial jobs). By 1943, almost half of the facility’s 13,500 employees were women and 7.9 percent were African American. In wartime Springfield, as across America, significantly more women and blacks were in skilled defense jobs than ever.

A poster recruiting women to take wartime work at a federal Armory or defense plant and become a Woman Ordnance Worker (WOW). Posters with the iconic image of “Rosie the Riveter” also were employed to attract women into defense industries. This woman’s bandana is emblazoned with the WOW logo: a cannon ball with wings.

A poster recruiting women to take wartime work at a federal Armory or defense plant
and become a Woman Ordnance Worker (WOW). Posters with the iconic image
of “Rosie the Riveter” also were employed to attract women into defense industries.
This woman’s bandana is emblazoned with the WOW logo: a cannon ball with wings.

The Armory closed in 1968, but its labor and manufacturing legacies live on at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site (SPAR), a National Park Service facility in Springfield’s center. At SPAR— a frequent program collaborator with the UMass History Department— one finds archived documents that tell fascinating stories of the changing workforce and the experiences of these newcomers to the defense industry.  Detailed historical narrative about the Armory and its workers, digitized versions of documents, reports and photos from the Armory, recordings of 25 former Armory employees and more are available at SPAR’s Forge of Innovation website (www.forgeofinnovation.org).

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This post originally appeared on the National Museum of American History’s blog O Say Can You See

Smithsonian Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman’s Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum’s disability history collections and write blog posts sharing their research. The blogs are part of the celebrations commemorating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the American Disabilities Act.

Kayla Pittman, M.A. alumna, UMass History

I wanted much to go to war
and went to be examined;
the surgeon looked me o’er and o’er
my back and chest he hammered.
Said he, “You’re not the man for me,
Your lungs are much affected,
And likewise both your eyes are cock’d
And otherwise defected.”
“So now I’m with the invalids,
and cannot go and fight sir,
The doctor told me so, you know,
And so it must be right, sir!”

Despite being jeered by songs like the one above (which appears in The Civil War Letters of Colonel Charles F. Johnson: Invalid Corps edited by Fred Pelka) and nicknamed “the Condemned Yanks” and “the Cripple Brigade,” the Union Army’s Invalid Corps eventually grew to twice the size the U.S. Army had been prior to the Civil War. In desperate need to free up fighting men for the front lines, the Union established the Invalid Corps in April of 1863.

Poster with headline in bold text:

Invalid Corps recruitment poster. Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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