The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

World War II

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“You’re in the Army Now”

“You're in the Army Now”

Responding to Uncle Sam’s call, American men, most in their early twenties, hung up their civvies, put on a uniform, and went to war. Nearly sixteen million Americans served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Army Air Forces.

The United States summoned millions of American men—rich and poor, illiterate and educated, from farms and cities—for “training and service” in U.S. land, naval, and air forces. Many joined; most were drafted. They found themselves at one of hundreds of mobilization camps and training centers across the country. They received a haircut, immunizations, a stack of uniforms and gear, a bunk, a footlocker—and a rude awakening. Most had just weeks to learn soldiering, the technicalities of weapon systems, or the complexities of support services. Then they faced the realities of war.


Exhibition Graphics

Civilians being sworn in to the Army

Civilians being sworn in to the Army

Check in station

Check in station

Recruits at a U.S. Navy training station in San Diego, California

Recruits at a U.S. Navy training station in San Diego, California

Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland

Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland

Marksmanship training

Marksmanship training

African American volunteers in training at Montford Point, North Carolina

African American volunteers in training at Montford Point, North Carolina

Bayonet training

Bayonet training

Basic training

Basic training

Gas mask drill

Gas mask drill

Aviation cadets

Aviation cadets


Related Artifacts

“I Want You” Poster
Notice of Classification
Notice to Appear for Physical Exam
Order to Report for Induction

Bands of Brothers

Strangers in adjoining bunks had just weeks to become brothers in arms. Trainees learned to snore, shower, sweat, swear, smoke, and soldier together.

Shared experiences of drilling, calisthenics, field training, classroom study, even bunk inspections, ideally built bonds of loyalty and trust. American forces numbered in the millions, but individuals operated in small groups organized around weapon, mechanical, or technical systems. Sometimes crews numbered a dozen or fewer. One million African Americans trained and served in segregated units, building strong bonds with their fellow soldiers but few across racial lines.


Exhibition Graphics

“You’re in the Army Mr. Green. We like the barracks nice and clean.”

“You’re in the Army Mr. Green. We like the barracks nice and clean.”

The company bugler marked the strict regimens of military life, calling out orders from reveille to taps.

The company bugler marked the strict regimens of military life, calling out orders from reveille to taps.

At ease

At ease



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