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War Drives in North Dakota

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During World War II, the American public paid exceptional attention to the needs of their local community as well as the needs of the troops. One of the frequent citizen-led activities were drives for needed items during the long, weary days and years of the war. Virtually every newspaper in the country kept people apprised of those needs.

In the Fargo Forum this month of September in 1943, the paper reported on a variety of drives. President Franklin Roosevelt was featured in a nationwide radio program opening a bond drive. It was carried by the country’s four major radio networks. Movie theatres across the country arranged to play the president’s address. It was also promoted by film stars headed by popular actor James Cagney. Other stars would follow with a national tour that would visit 14 of the country’s largest cities.

Locally, Cass County in North Dakota announced a war drive in Casselton, Kindred, Buffalo and Fargo.

In Bismarck, a detachment of the Seventh Air Corps Ferrying Command stationed at the airport appealed to state citizens for the donation of radio sets. The commander said, “We want old radios that people wish to dispose of because we can build a Public Address system that will save a lot of running.”

A North Dakota plan for a war chest drive was announced with an initial commitment of 40 participating counties. The drive director speculated that “the remaining 13 counties will complete organization well before the drive gets underway.”

The War Production Board announced there would be fewer grocery store paper bags produced. Officials said the decision was necessary due to the paper needed for packing essential war materials and food items for the American war fronts. As a result, bags for variety and grocery stores would see a 30 percent production shortage.

A state fund drive for Russian clothing relief being held in Bismarck was set to end on the last day of September. In the remaining days of the drive, the chairman urged citizens to “dig deep” into their closets for old clothes and bedding. “In some towns”, he said, “it may be necessary to set up a pick-up tracking service to collect clothes.”

Dakota Datebook by Steve Stark

Fargo Forum, Sept 3, 1943

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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