A Building Block for the Future:
The G.I. Bill of 1944
“We’re finally home boys!” shouted one of the young invigorated soldiers as the plane landed on the runway. The young men arriving from the European and Japanese fronts were filled with excitement but among them there resonated a feeling of unknown. World War II had finally come to a conclusion and what the future held for many young men in the middle of the 1940’s was completely unknown. The only feeling of security that the soldiers returning home was the feeling of winning. The feeling of satisfaction persisted among the American soldiers that they had avenged the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. The same feeling of satisfaction existed on the European front as they had helped the other European powers stop the Fascist Nazi’s. Among the men there was a contagious energy in which many had never had the opportunity to experience in many of their lifetimes. These men and women had just accomplished one of the most incredible feats of the twentieth century and it was now time for them to return to America and start the rest of their lives.
Most of the soldiers involved in the war grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930’s and had never known anything that resembled a comfortable lifestyle. As soldiers returned home from the Pacific and European fronts many questions arose about what their futures would hold. Among many Americans there was a general fear that the economy would return to its pre-war state in which people were starving and the unemployment rate was at an all-time high. Most believed that the war was responsible for the economic turnaround that had occurred in America due to the influx of money spent by the U.S. government for an arms buildup. This build up of arms provided many jobs to women and non-white races that had not had the opportunity to find a job before the war but the question that persisted was were these men going to return to work and put these people back on the streets? Many questions lingered in Americans minds, but a question that stood out for many Americans at this time was with the war effort now over and production down will America again fall into the deep depths of the depression? This question was answered with the passing of a bill and the pen of Franklin Roosevelt on May 19, 1944 when the American government made a down payment for their future. When President Roosevelt signed the Readjustment Act he was betting on the returning soldiers to have a lasting impact on America; the soldiers would not disappoint as many men used the bill to brighten their futures and in doing so made America a stronger nation.
The G.I. Bill influenced America in many different ways in which all had positive effects. First, when soldiers returned home from the European and Pacific fronts many were still trying to get the horrific images that they had to endure out of their heads. Not only did many experience the loss of many of their closest comrades, but many were trying to overcome the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The G.I. Bill offered financial aid for a year that would allow those soldiers that were struggling psychologically. These men were struggling with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder either could not find a job or didn’t have the ability to initially work after the war. The bill provided reasonable unemployment allowances that were payable each week for up to a maximum period of a year. As a result of the Great Depression and pre-war America the state of the economy was of utmost importance to President Roosevelt. He and the rest of the political leaders of America knew something needed to be done to create new jobs and stimulate spending. The leaders also knew that something had to be done to protect the future of the returning soldiers as such a large group of young men were returning home. Roosevelt’s core idea of the G.I. bill is exhibited by Altschuler when he writes, “To Roosevelt, this was...
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