Last night I watched the episode of American Experience on PBS about the Civilian Conservation Corps. Yes, I had learned about this New Deal program in school but I had no idea about the CCC's contribution to making it possible for us to enter the conflict and then prevail in the Second World War.
Here's that part of the transcript:
Houston Pritchett, Joined the CCC in 1939: I was in the CC’s for 23 months and four days, never forget it. And I left because they was gonna take the men out of the CC and send them straight in the army. It’s time for us to make a move.
Harley Jolley, Joined the CCC in 1937: The coming of Pearl Harbor and the movement of the United States into World War Two brought an enormous demand for manpower. That was the axe that killed the CCC. By July of 1942 the CCC was phased out, gone.
Vincente Ximenes, Joined the CCC in 1938: Without the CCCs, I really… I really don’t know what we would have done. We did not have an army prepared to go to war. And here was approximately two and a half or three million men who were prepared and had been organized to work together. I joined the Air Force in 1941. And they didn’t have to do a hell of a lot of training for me. I was prepared.
Houston Pritchett, Joined the CCC in 1939: Nobody didn’t have to tell you about how to make a bed and how it should be done, how to clean your clothes. And they didn’t have to tell you — if the man tell you to go do something, you didn’t ask questions, you do it. The CCC made me a man, it made me respect discipline and how to work and get along with people.
So there you have it. That most "liberal" of programs (yes, even then its detractors called it a "communist" and "socialist" approach) enabled us to enter and win that war.
The film is truly fascinating --- and inspiring, too. You can read the entire transcript right here. Highly, highly recommended.