News of the trouble in Europe came to many Kentuckians in a rather unexpected way: through movies. During this time period, there were many theaters that showed news. Changes in Kentucky life during World War II began with the boycotting of German goods. In 1934, Louisville began a Jewish refugee community to help persecuted German Jews resettle in the Bluegrass. In 1937, 30 refuges found their way to Louisville; four years later, over 400. Although the United States didn't enter World War II until later, preparations for the war began in the 1930s. Construction on Bowman Field, a small airport located just south of Louisville, began in the late 1930s, and would become the busiest airport during World War II. Bomber squadrons and the Army Air force’s School of Flight Surgeons were trained here. In many ways, the war was a blessing to Kentuckians, as President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration program brought many needed jobs to Kentucky. Most of these jobs were in construction, namely the expansion of Fort Knox. The Great Depression brought many Kentuckians closer, and this unity would be crucial in the war to come.
In Kentucky, World War II called for an increase in industry and a decrease in agriculture. This change of attention lead to two important things: the expansion of Fort Knox and Louisville becoming A large rubber manufacturer. After the war began, Louisville held the United States' 18th largest war arsenal, and as a result, guards were posted at bridges stretching over the Ohio river. During the War, thousands of officers and enlisted personnel spent time at Kentucky military bases. Although some Kentuckians were drafted, many rushed to enlist; Kentucky’s patriotism was very strong.
For some Kentuckians, the war brought complications. The government began buying farms during the war for land to build housing for the surge of new enlistees. The government told farmers that they could buy back their land for the same price the government purchased it for after the war, but this did not happen. The land was sold for much more than was originally paid, and thus, only wealthy farmers were able to buy land—all of the land. The situation became even more heated when oil was discovered under the farms; legal action by the farmers began and continues to this day.
Patriotism may have been a strong emotion in Kentucky during the War, but grief and fear were also prominent. Many families lost at least one, if not more, family members to the war. Blue stars in a front window told the number of family members serving in the military, gold ones the number of those family members who died in service to their country. Almost 7,000 Kentuckians made the ultimate sacrifice. For children in Kentucky during the war, confusion and fear were present, as children saw their mothers crying while looking at newspapers or watching the news.
Of all the feelings present during this time period—loss, fear, confusion, anger, patriotism—understanding had to have been the strongest—understanding that the sacrifices Americans made were not in vain.