Citizens to Warriors

The Arsenal of Democracy

In the war years, each service branch saw explosive growth and brought together Americans from diverse backgrounds in a common experience of military training. But not all citizen soldiers’ experiences were alike: women, African Americans, and Japanese Americans all served in segregated units. The mobilization of the Coast Guard and National Guard took initial precedence as America’s first lines of defense after Pearl Harbor. Millions of young citizens flocked to enlist in the military in the early days of the war, but many millions more would eventually be drafted. Military personnel received specialized training appropriate to the service branch and environment in which they would serve, on the land, in the air, and at sea. This immersive gallery, set in a military barracks environment, highlights the massive effort to rapidly train and mobilize millions of civilians to become the nation’s troops in combat zones around the world.