Life Magazine Special Defense Issue July 7, 1941


"This special issue of LIFE is given over to the arming of America and the effort of the Republic to save its freedom. Words like freedom and independence have a new meanings too. The sizzle of rockets in an evening sky means less today than the hiss of thewelder's arc sewing up a ship's side. The waving of Fourth of July flags means less than the flag-waving shown above, for when these workers have finished waving they will go to work for defense. For a year now, America has been working for defense. The result of its effort is described in the chart on the following pages. In its industrial effort the country is about where it has a right to expect to be, considering that it is a peaceable nation lacking the real warrior spirit. Considering the awful urgency of the situation, the simple conclusion is this: things could be worse but they should be a whole lot better. In the pictures which follow, some of the first tangible results of the country's quick tooling-up are shown. Soon the country will begin to get arms in quantitiy. They are late in coming and the uncomfortable fact is that time has not been on our side. But when Germany turned on Russia (see pp. 30-40), the U.S. was given more time in which to prepare -- weeks, months, no one knows how much more. For this extra time the U.S. may have to pay in the form of military materila sent to help Russia fight the Nazis. Already the U.S. arms program is burdened with the vital responsibility of helping two democracies, Great Britain and China, fight a fight which is not only their fight but also America's. An honest -- but not complacent -- examination explains why the U.S. effort has sometimes seemed so slow that the desperate meen who knew the dangers felt the people had no eyes, no ears, no understanding. Above all, the U.S. effort has been made without the whiplash of declared war.
about the cover
Not until a year ago was there any real drive forward. But the past year saw the machine move. More than $3,000,000,000 dollars in new defense plants was authorized or built. Almost $30,000,000,000 wa set aside for defense. The Lease-Lend Act wa put in effect. The first peacetime conscription was effected and today the Army stands at a historic peacetime strength of 1,441,500 men and officers. The country is awake, though not yet aroused. And there are growing signs that America is willing to show the grim purpose that Germany and Britain showed, growing signs that the love for freedom on this Independence Day is greater that the hope for comfort." (p. 17)

"The Purpose of this special issue of LIFE is to show its readers, in pictures and words, the mighty stir and drama of the nation's defense effort. To this end, LIFE herewith presents more pages in color than it has ever before printed in a single issue. Among the 20 color pages are photographs of a night bombing mission, portraits of the Army's top generals, the U.S. Marines in a bivouac, the Armored Force in action, camouflage, Army food and seven specially commissioned paintings by leading American artists."

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