Traveling Tuesday: California and WWII
Initially settled by Native Californian tribes, what is now the state of California was explored by numerous European expeditions during the 1500s and 1600s. The Spanish Empire claimed it as part of their New Spain colony, but then it became part of Mexico following their war for independence. After the Mexican-American war it was ceded to the U.S. Two years later, California became the thirty-first state. First in population with nearly forty million residents, California ranks third in size (after Alaska and Texas). Neither urban nor industrial and known for oranges and movies in the 1930s, California was popular with tourists and retirees.
The Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, and overnight life changed. Near panic conditions resulted as tens of thousands of citizens expected similar attacks – perhaps even by the same force that had attacked Hawaii. Japanese submarines trolled the waters off the California coast, taking out merchant ships and reinforcing the fear. Rumors began to circulate that Japanese fisherman were mining the harbors and Japanese farmers were poisoning the fruits and vegetables they were selling. Additional rumors claimed the Japanese were secretly organizing military units to work behind American lines.
As a result of these tensions, martial law was declared on Los Angeles’s Terminal Island – a scrap of land that a major U.S. Naval base, oil facilities, and a large ethnic Japanese community shared. California beaches were strung with barbed wire and watch towers were constructed. Coastal cities were put under blackout conditions. Radio stations went off the air, and commercial airliners were grounded.
Shortly thereafter, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, and individuals with Japanese, Italian, and German heritage were shipped to internment camps all over the country.
Already agricultural, California expanded its capabilities to meet wartime needs for food. Factories and military bases sprang up, and by war’s end the state was a leading manufacturing center and was home to over 140 military installations. Soldiers trained in deserts, mountains, and beaches, and pilots learned to fly. San Francisco, LA, and San Diego shipyards built over 1,500 ships, and more planes were assembled in California than any other states. Workers flocked to the state in what newspapers nicknamed “The Second Gold Rush.”
Over 800,000 Californians would serve in uniform, and millions would be trained at California installations or shipped out through the state’s embarkation centers.
Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city?
Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. Available on Amazon.