America’s Path Into World War II

America came out of its isolationist feeling in a hurry in December 1941. But perhaps it was not that sudden after all; there were many events that brought us to that brink.

Newtown Historical Society will look at the events leading up to World War II, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the first year of the war, in a program on Tuesday, October 15, at 7:30 pm, in the lower meeting room of C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street. The illustrated presentation, “‘Til  Boots Hit The Ground,” will be made by Peter Cronin.

Hitler came to power in 1933, and in the midst of the Great Depression, America paid little attention to the event. The same was true regarding continued Japanese militarism and expansion. Soon enough, however, the United States became be deeply involved in a conflagration that eventually took the lives of between 20,000 and 40,000 people every day for 2,100 long days.

Before the country’s involvement became inevitable, many Americans had been trying very hard to ignore the evidence of nationalistic aggression in both Europe and Asia. Others could clearly see the implications of such aggression, for America and some would say for civilization. America was highly confused and preoccupied with its own internal troubles.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Cronin will examine the unsettled state of America’s feelings about events happening in Europe and Asia. He will look at the role of President Franklin Delano  Roosevelt, and his attempts to make a place at the table for America before the country knew there was a table.

Through such programs as the Lend Lease arrangement that sent warships to Britain in exchange for bases in a country where we had not yet sent troops, Roosevelt began to prepare the nation militarily and even more importantly, psychologically, for the coming battle. In the end, the final push came from the other direction, with the horrific bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The country’s reaction, if not universal, left little doubt that America’s confusion had lifted, and it had become a world war at last.

Mr Cronin’s program will take the audience through the early years of appeasement, Pearl Harbor, the decision to concentrate efforts in Europe, and the first year of the war.

Peter Cronin is a resident of Brookfield and has long made a hobby of studying military history. He has spoken on many military subjects in the area, often presenting at Brookfield Historical Society’s Monday Military Forums.

Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Please note the day and date of its usual program has been changed to accommodate the Columbus Day holiday.

Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

For further information visit the society’s website at www.newtownhistory.org, or leave a message at 203-426-5937.

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