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World War II & Interwar Period (1939-1949)

On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese Navy Air Service launched a surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. This tragic event which killed 2,403 people, catapulted the United States into WWII.

In 1997, the United States Congress honored Bob Hope by declaring him the “first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces.”

Images of swastika symbol used by various cultures

Did you know the swastika was not always a symbol of Naziism and hate? Learn more about this ancient religious icon.

Do you recognize this famous movie star? It is none other than Marilyn Monroe.

Norma Jeane Dougherty holding a propeller for a WWII Radioplane drone
White Star with a broken circle surrounding the star

Army regulation AR-850-5 issued August 1942 ordered a plain white five-pointed star, as the national symbol, it was seen in all theaters from 1943 and by 1944 was the most common national identification sign.

Explore the history behind US wartime posters and their encouragement for conservation, production, recruiting and efforts on the home front.

Prototype jeep drives up steps of the US Capitol

Some accounts indicate that “jeep” was military slang for new recruits and unproven equipment.  But what is known is that the first documented application of the term “jeep” to the Willys was in early 1941.

Doris “Dorie” Miller was born on October 12, 1919, in the midst of the lynching epidemic that blighted the South in the early 20th century.

The first Japanese plane shot down during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941

Did you know there was a second attack on Pearl Harbor? Learn more about Operation K.

Nearly out of mortar shells, the troops called for an airdrop using the code name they’d established for 60MM mortar ammo: Tootsie Rolls.

Tootsie Roll candy pictured with the USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor with Marines in the cold
Men of the 133rd Field Artillery Battalion enjoy Cokes on the front, March 17, 1944. (Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, National Archives)

During World War II, Coca-Cola ran a series of ads that expressed Coca-Cola as a patriotic brand that greeted Americans wherever they went, ‘reminding them of home’.