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        #195: World War Two on the Home Front

        作者:David Jarmul 發布日期:8-25-2013

        An American soldier at home on leave, learning about point rationing of food from his friend who runs the general store in Bowman, South Carolina, 1943.
        An American soldier at home on leave, learning about point rationing of food from his friend who runs the general store in Bowman, South Carolina, 1943.

        STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember

        (MUSIC)

        The United States entered the Second World War in December of forty-one. Europe had already been at war since nineteen thirty-nine. But the United States did not enter World War Two until Japanese forces attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

        (SOUND)

        The attack was a surprise. But American military and political leaders had believed that the United States, sooner or later, would be pulled into the fighting. And they began to prepare for war.

        (MUSIC)

        President Franklin Roosevelt had been assistant secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War One. He remembered how American troops were not ready for that war. Now that he was president, Roosevelt wanted to be sure that the United States would be ready when it had to fight. Throughout nineteen forty-one, Roosevelt urged American industries to produce more weapons and other military supplies. He established new government agencies to work with industry to increase arms production.

        A wartime shipbuilding center in the United States
        A wartime shipbuilding center in the United States

        Some business leaders resisted Roosevelt's efforts. They felt there was no need to produce more arms while the United States was still at peace. But many others cooperated. And by the time Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the American economy was producing millions of guns and other weapons.

        Still, this was not enough to fight a war. After the Japanese attack, Roosevelt increased his demands on American industry. He called for sixty thousand warplanes, forty-five thousand tanks and twenty-thousand anti-aircraft guns. And he wanted all these within one year.

        A month after the Pearl Harbor raid, Roosevelt organized a special committee to direct military production. He created another group to help companies find men and women for defense work. And he established a new office where the nation's best scientists and engineers could work together to design new weapons.

        These new government organizations faced several problems. Sometimes factories produced too much of one product and not enough of another. Sometimes tools broke. And some business owners refused to accept government orders.

        But the weapons were produced, and American troops soon had the guns and supplies they needed.

        (MUSIC)

        Women putting together gun parts at the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
        Women putting together gun parts at the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

        The federal government had to quickly expand its own workforce to meet war needs. Federal spending increased from six billion dollars in nineteen forty to eighty-nine billion in nineteen forty-four. That was fifteen times as much spending in just five years.

        Roosevelt had to take strong steps to get the money for all this spending. He put limits on wages. He increased income taxes to as much as ninety-four percent on portions of incomes over two hundred thousand dollars. And he asked the American people to lend money to the federal government. The people answered by purchasing almost one hundred billion dollars in war bonds.

        The great increase in public spending raised the threat of high inflation. Roosevelt created a special office with the power to control prices. Many Americans agreed with the idea of price controls. But every business wanted somebody else's prices controlled, not their own.

        Federal officials had to work hard to keep prices and supplies under control. They restricted how much meat, fuel and other goods people could buy.

        The price control program generally worked. Its success kept the American economy strong to support the troops fighting in Europe and Asia.

        One reason these strong economic steps worked was because most of the American people fully supported the war effort.

        (MUSIC: "Rosie the Riveter")

        Rosie the Riveter came to represent American women who worked in factories during World War II. This government poster was designed to get women involved in the war effort.
        Rosie the Riveter came to represent American women who worked in factories during World War II. This government poster was designed to get women involved in the war effort.

        STEVE EMBER: You can look at photographs of people from those times and see in their faces how strongly they felt.

        In one picture from the state of North Carolina, a group of men are standing in front of old rubber tires. They are planning to give the tires to the Army to be fixed and used for military vehicles.

        Another photo shows a woman visiting a hospital. She is singing to a soldier to lift his spirits.

        Still another photo shows a man who owns a small food store. He is placing signs on meat and cans of food to tell people how much they are allowed to buy.

        You can also get an idea about the feelings of the times by the names of some of the popular songs during World War Two.

        (MUSIC: "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition")

        STEVE EMBER: In addition to "Rosie the Riveter," there were songs like "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." ?One of the most hopeful songs was this one, recorded by Britain's Vera Lynn.

        (MUSIC: "When the Lights Go on Again All Over the World")

        STEVE EMBER: Not all Americans supported the war. A small number refused to fight because of religious or moral beliefs. They were known as conscientious objectors. And some Americans supported Adolf Hitler and other fascists. But almost everyone else wanted to win the war quickly and return to a normal life.

        (MUSIC)

        Many Japanese-Americans served with honor in the United States armed forces. But many Americans were suspicious of anyone whose family had come from Japan. They refused to trust even Japanese-American families who had lived in the United States for more than a century.

        Manzanar internment camp in the desert near Independence, California
        Manzanar internment camp in the desert near Independence, California

        Many banks refused to lend money to Japanese-Americans. Many stores would not sell to them.

        The federal government relocated thousands of Japanese-Americans in California and other states into internment camps. They were released only after the war ended. It was many years before the government officially apologized for mistreating Japanese-Americans.

        (MUSIC)

        STEVE EMBER: But World War Two did lead to progress for another group that was often the target of discrimination: black Americans. Black leaders spoke out. They said it was unfair to fight a war for freedom in Europe while black Americans did not have all the same freedoms as white citizens.

        A. PHILIP RANDOLPH: "Negros want the same things that white citizens possess - all their rights, and no force under the sun can stem and block and stop this civil rights revolution which is now underway."

        STEVE EMBER: In nineteen forty-one, a leader in the black community, A. Philip Randolph, threatened to lead a giant march on Washington for civil rights for blacks. President Roosevelt reacted by issuing an order that made it a crime to deny blacks a chance for jobs in defense industries. He also ordered the armed forces to change some of their rules that discriminated against black service members.

        Blacks made progress in the military and defense industries. But most other industries still refused to give them an equal chance. Major progress on civil rights would not come until the nineteen fifties and sixties.

        (MUSIC)

        Life was busy during the war years. There were many changes in the economy, business, music, race relations and other areas. But in many ways, life continued as it always does.

        Americans did what they could during the hard years of World War Two to keep life on the home front as normal as possible. But almost everyone understood that the first job was to support the troops overseas and win the war.

        This strength of purpose at home gave American soldiers the support they needed. And it also helped President Roosevelt as he negotiated with other world leaders. Diplomacy and foreign relations became much more complex during the war. That will be our story next week.

        Our program was written by David Jarmul. You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.squishedblueberries.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

        ___

        This was program #195. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

        歐洲1939年開始第二次世界大戰,而美國直到1941年12月日本偷襲夏威夷的珍珠港美國海軍基地后,才參加到二戰中去。珍珠港事件讓美國措手不及。不過,美國軍事和政治領導人其實明白,美國參戰是遲早的事情,所以一直在為戰爭做準備。

        當時的美國總統羅斯福一戰期間曾在威爾遜政府里擔任海軍部助理部長。羅斯福記得,美軍當時完全沒有準備的情況,如今他是總統了,他決心一定要保證美軍的戰備能力。1941年整整一年,羅斯??偨y不斷要求美國軍工產業生產大批的武器和軍事裝備,還專門成立了新的政府部門,跟軍工產業配合,增加武器產量。

        一些商界領袖對羅斯福的做法采取抵制態度。他們覺得,美國在和平時期沒必要生產更多的武器;但是另外一些人則密切配合羅斯福政府的政策。日本偷襲珍珠港的時候,美國已經在大批生產數以百萬計的槍支等各種武器了。

        然而,要打仗,這還遠遠不夠。珍珠港事件發生后,羅斯福要求美國軍工產業生產六萬架戰斗機、四萬五千輛坦克和兩萬架高射炮,限期一年完成。珍珠港偷襲事件發生一個月后,羅斯福組建了一個特別委員會,指揮軍工生產。他還建立了一個小組,幫助軍工產業招募員工,此外,羅斯福也建立了一個新的辦公室,把全國最優秀的科學家和工程師召集起來,設計新型武器。

        這些新的政府機構也遇到了不少麻煩。有時候,工廠某種產品產量過剩,而另外某種產品又產量不足;有時候工具壞了,沒法用;還有一些公司老板拒絕接受政府訂單。但最后,武器還是生產出來了,美國軍隊有了打仗用的槍支和裝備。

        聯邦政府也不得不迅速增加公務員人數,滿足戰爭需要。聯邦開支1940年只有60億美元,到1944年的時候已經增加到了890億美元,短短五年內增加了15倍。

        為了支持政府開支,羅斯福不得不采取大膽的措施。他對工資設限;超過20萬美元的那部分收入最多需要交納百分之94的所得稅,他還呼吁美國人民借錢給聯邦政府,美國民眾響應號召,購買了將近一千億美元的戰爭債券。

        大幅度增加公共開支帶來了高通貨膨脹的風險。羅斯福建立了一個特別辦公室,控制物價。很多美國人贊成控制物價的做法,但是私人企業都希望看到別人的價格受到控制,而自己產品的價格不受限制。因此,聯邦政府官員為控制物價和供給量費了很大力氣。肉類、燃料等產品全都限量供應。

        控制物價的努力取得了很大成功,讓美國經濟保持強勁,支持美軍在歐洲和亞洲的戰斗。政府這些強有力的政策之所以能奏效,一個重要原因是得到了人民的支持。從當年的一些照片上,我們可以清楚地看出美國百姓的堅定和決心。

        一張來自北卡羅來納州的照片上,一群男子站在一些破舊輪胎前,他們正準備把舊輪胎捐給美國陸軍,經過修理加工后,用在軍車上。另外一張照片上,一位婦女到醫院去,給一個受傷的戰士唱歌,給他帶去安慰。還有一張照片上,一個小食品店老板正在肉類和罐頭食品旁邊標注,告訴顧客他們購買的限量是多少。

        從當時一些流行歌曲的名字里,大家也能感受到戰爭的氣氛,其中比較有名的包括:鉚釘女工羅、,贊美上帝傳遞彈藥,以及當全世界再次點亮明燈。

        不過,并非所有的美國人都支持這場戰爭。一小批人基于宗教信仰和倫理觀念拒絕參戰,這些人被稱為非戰主義者。還有一些美國人支持希特勒和其他法西斯主義者,但是其他幾乎所有的美國人都希望能盡快打贏這場戰爭,恢復正常的生活。

        很多日裔美國人也參軍作戰,但是不少美國人不相信日本移民,甚至是那些已經在美國生活了一百多年的日本家庭在那個時候也同樣受到懷疑。很多銀行拒絕借錢給他們,一些商店甚至不賣東西給他們。

        聯邦政府把加利福尼亞州和其他一些州成千上萬的日裔美國人集中看管,戰爭結束才將他們釋放,直到很多年后,美國政府才正式為這種不公正的做法,向日裔美國人道歉。

        與此同時,二戰又使原本倍受歧視的非洲裔美國人的地位得到了提升。黑人領袖高聲疾呼。他們指出,美國在歐洲為自由而戰,而非洲裔美國人卻無法享受跟白人公民同等的自由,這種情況是不公平的。當時一位黑人領袖菲利普.倫道夫說:"黑人想要擁有白人公民所擁有的所有東西--他們享受的所有權利。太陽底下沒有任何力量能夠消除,阻止或是讓這場已經開始的民權革命停下腳步。"

        1941年,黑人領袖倫道夫威脅說,要為爭取非洲裔美國人的民權,在首都華盛頓組織一次大規模游行。羅斯??偨y迅速做出反應,下令說,剝奪黑人在軍工行業的就業機會屬于犯罪行為。他還下令軍方改變了一些歧視黑人士兵的規定。

        非洲裔美國人在軍隊和軍工行業的地位有所提升,但是在其他行業,他們還是無法得到平等機會。黑人民權的長足進步還要等到二十世紀五、六十年代的時候。

        戰爭年代的生活緊張忙碌,美國經濟、商業、音樂、族裔關系等領域都發生了很多變化,但是在另外一些方面,生活則一如既往。二戰的艱苦日子里,美國人盡量保持正常生活,但是幾乎所有的人都明白,大家的首要任務是支持海外的美軍部隊,打贏這場戰爭。

        這種堅定信念讓美國士兵得到了應有的后援,也支持了羅斯福跟其他國家領導人的交涉。戰爭期間的外交關系變得尤其復雜。

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