World War II | Michigan Radio
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World War II

aerial view of little caesars arena
Tony Brown / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, as a federal corruption probe into the United Auto Workers union focuses on UAW president Gary Jones, some in the union are reportedly questioning his future there. Plus, a doctor warns caution in the new era of legal cannabis.

three books with an apple on top, a few crayons, and some ABC blocks sit on top of a wood desk
Unsplash

 


Today on Stateside, how "energy resilient" is Michigan? We talk to the chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission about a newly-released assessment of the state's energy infrastructure. Plus, the rise and fall of a 19th century Chrsitian utopian society in Michigan's Thumb region. 

Retired Pvt. Leslie P. Cruise, 95, remembers June 6, 1944, clearly. Standing at the airplane's edge, preparing to jump onto the enemy lines of Normandy on D-Day, fear didn't occur to him.

"It was very moving and exciting," Cruise tells NPR's Noel King. "We fly over the channel; you can look out the window and see the silhouettes of the ships. We know what's going to happen now. We've talked about it, but look at all those ships down there, my gosh."

patricia hall and unknown student
University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps were brutal and violent places. By the end of the Holocaust, an estimated 1.1 million people died or were murdered there by their Nazi captors.

Rendering of the memorial
Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial Board

 

Governor Snyder has signed a new tax law that offers assistance to a proposed World War Two memorial in Oakland County.

The law adds the Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial to the list of organizations you'll be able to donate to through your state income tax return.

Deb Hollis is the president of the Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial Board. She joined Stateside’s Cynthia Canty to discuss the current status of the Memorial and effect of this new law. 

University Of Chicago Press, 2017

 

When was the last time you heard about a politician who realized she or he needed to change to help the country – that former ways had to be put aside to foster bipartisan cooperation for the good of the country? 

 

A U.S. senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, was such a person. 

Wikicommons

What is the best way to keep a soldier’s morale up? This was a serious question for government officials during World War II.

America’s soldiers were experiencing the most traumatic events of their lives, away from their families and surrounded by the horrors of war.

Officials concluded that perhaps the best way to keep soldiers happy was the power of music.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At first glance, there wasn’t anything particularly unusual about their group: a handful of seniors at a local café, gathered over their weekly coffee. The topics of conversation could be wide-ranging, often touching on politics or thorny social issues. And there was a bond that strengthened with each weekly get-together.

But when Bill Haney first joined this “gaggle of geezers,” he quickly realized there were lessons to be learned in the stories they told. Haney has written, edited or published more than 400 books about Michigan and its people. So he was the right person to see a book in the lives of the group, which meets every Monday at Brioni Cafe & Deli in Clarkson.

The 25-foot statue inspired by the photograph "V-J Day in Times Square" is on display in New York City. The statue will be on display in Royal Oak until the end of the year.
Carl Deal / MichiganWW2Memorial.org

On Monday, Aug. 15, Americans across the country will celebrate the 71st anniversary of V-J Day, victory over Japan.

August 15, 1945 was a massive celebration, and one of the most famous photographs from that day -- or of any day in our country's history -- is "V-J Day in Times Square," which was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt. The photo shows a sailor and a nurse sharing a celebratory kiss in Times Square. 

A 25-foot statue commemorating the kiss is currently on display at Memorial Park in Royal Oak until the end of the year. The massive bronze statue is the centerpiece of the event "Kissing the War Goodbye," when the public is encouraged to show up, dressed as sailors and nurses, to recreate the kiss.

This wreckage of a World War II plane was pulled from the bottom of Lake Michigan.
Courtesy of John Davies

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, America was pulled into World War II. But, the military needed -- among other things -- pilots. In particular, the U.S. needed pilots who could land and take off from aircraft carriers. But the carriers the U.S. had at the time were desperately needed in the theater of war.

So, how to train the pilots?

That’s the subject of a new documentary Heroes On Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan.

Women guitar makers scratched from Gibson history

May 25, 2016
John Thomas

In the summer of 2013, we spoke with law professor and music journalist John Thomas about the Kalamazoo Gals on Stateside.

Thomas had uncovered the story of women who built some 9,000 guitars at the Gibson Guitar headquarters in Kalamazoo during World War II.

This discovery clashed with Gibson’s official assertion that they built no instruments during the war.

He tells the story in his book, Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII.

In the three years since we last spoke, the story has taken some interesting turns. Today Thomas and Kalamazoo Gal Irene Stearns joined us again on Stateside to talk about it.

Holocaust survivor sings national anthem at Tigers game

May 21, 2016
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An 89-year-old Holocaust survivor has fulfilled her longtime wish to sing the U.S. national anthem at a Major League Baseball game.

Hermina Hirsch sang Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit before the Detroit Tigers played Tampa Bay.

Angela Flournoy
LaToya T. Duncan

Angela Flournoy’s new novel, The Turner House, is receiving praise across the literary spectrum, from The New York Times to Buzzfeed.

It was also a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction.

Fred Korematsu, seated center, at a 1983 press conference announcing the reopening of his Supreme Court case
flickr user keithpr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We’ve all been hearing a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric recently. Everything from banning all Muslims from the country to halting the flow of Syrian refugees.

This week, Karen Korematsu has been in Michigan sharing her father’s story from a similar time of fear and confusion.

U.S. troops almost buried by parcels do their best to handle the holiday mail, ca. 1944
Public Domain

If ever there was a case of love at first sight, it happened on January 17, 1942 at a dance in Asheville, North Carolina.

On that night, 21-year-old Billee Gray met 28-year-old Private Charles Kiley, and after just a couple of weekend dates, they knew they were meant to be together.

It wasn’t long before Charles was shipped off to fight in World War II, but the two stayed in touch and forged their love through hundreds of letters.

Charles and Billee’s daughter, son, and son-in-law have brought these letters together in a book: Writing the War: Chronicles of a World War Two Correspondent.

Mercedes Mejia

Seventy years ago this week, the Empire of Japan surrendered. That announcement on August 15, 1945 ended the fighting in World War II.

Edward Morisette came from New Baltimore. He joined the Navy in July 1944 when he was just 17 years old. He saw combat when the U.S. retook the Philippine Islands. Kamikaze pilots attacked his landing ship during the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of the war in the Pacific.

Courtesy of David Kiley

It was one of the most jubilant days in history.

VE Day: the end of the Second World War in Europe. 

David Kiley of Ann Arbor has a unique link to that historic day 70 years ago.

Erna Roberts has had a full life. As a survivor of the WWII Nazi takeover of her homeland, Latvia, as well as two separate Russian occupations, still living on her own at the age of 97 is the least of her feats.

Today marks a significant historical anniversary that is likely to go largely unnoticed. World War II really began 75 years ago today, when Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany for attacking Poland.

For the next six years, humans violently murdered each other at the rate of about 10 million a year. 

This anniversary is likely to get little notice because so much else is going on – and because historians are busy commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Now here is a little Michigan news story that isn’t likely to get much notice either. According to Livingston County police, a 69-year-old man was driving a pickup truck yesterday afternoon, when he passed a 43-year-old man driving a smaller vehicle.

They then both were stopped at a traffic light. The younger man got out of his car and approached the truck. And the truck driver shot him to death. Police say they were both from Howell, but didn’t know each other, that this was just a case of road rage.

For months, we’ve been embroiled in Detroit’s bankruptcy and attempts to save what there is worth saving.

It is hard to pick up any national publication without finding stories about Detroit, few of them good. There are a spate of new book titles too, which mostly chronicle the city’s decline and fall.

Yet I’ve just been reading an utterly fascinating and inspiring new book about a time when Detroit really did save, or at least help save, the world.

The book, just published by Houghton Mifflin, is The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

This is a book with characters larger and more bizarre than life. It tells the story of a Detroit-based triumph that the experts said was impossible. And every word in it is true.

Irene Butter speaks to 400 students in Germany about her life in Germany and the Netherlands when the Nazis where in power.
http://www.ggg-laupheim.de/

She was born in Germany, but as life for Jews in Germany became more dangerous through the 1930s, she and her family moved to the Netherlands – to Amsterdam, in the same neighborhood as a young girl named Anne Frank.

And like Anne Frank, she was captured by the Nazis and taken to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

But unlike Anne, young Irene Butter survived the camp.

Today, Dr. Irene Butter is a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.

Her life has been a remarkable journey, knit together by Irene's decision that she was going to live as a Holocaust survivor, not as a victim.

Irene Butter is the subject of the  film "Never a Bystander," by Ann Arbor filmmaker Evelyn Neuhaus.”

Irene Butter and Evelyn Neuhaus joined us today on the show.

*Listen to our interview above.

National Archives and Records Administration / Wikipedia

It's quite a long line to draw from a writer's studio in Michigan in 2014 to the West Coast during World War II. That's where over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were ordered by the U.S. government to walk away from their lives and report to internment camps.

This dark chapter in history ultimately resulted in more than $1.6 billion in reparations being paid to the Japanese-Americans who had been interned, or to their heirs. 

Matt Faulkner describes himself as an author and illustrator for kids. His new graphic novel tells the story of the internment camp through the eyes of a teenager named Koji Miyamoto. Koji's father is Japanese and his mother is white. The title of the graphic novel is Gaijin. 

Faulkner joined us today to discuss the book.

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder rolled out a new statewide recycling plan that aims to increase recycling across the state. Michigan is seventh among the eight Great Lakes states in its recycling performance, and the governor as well as recycling activists agree that we can do a lot better. 

The intersection of college athletics and college academics often causes controversy. To what degree are student athletes allowed to get away with lighter class loads in order for them to play? Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek joined us to answer that very question.

Tax day is tomorrow and procrastinators out there are scrambling to file. Detroit News Finance Editor Brian O'Connor joined us to explain how we can decrease our chances of being audited. 

On the West Coast during World War II, hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps. Matt Faulkner, an author and illustrator for kids, tells the story of these internments in his most recent graphic novel, Gaijin. 

It's no surprise that shipping conditions on the Great Lakes are miserable, even though spring has officially sprung and the shipping season officially opened March 25.

No commercial traffic has yet made it to the Soo Locks and ice is still four feet thick in some places, particularly in Lake Superior. On today’s show, we speak with a member of the U.S. Coast Guard about what's being done about this.

Then, what happened as World War II brought women and minorities into Detroit's assembly plants?

And, the Detroit bankruptcy is starting to affect the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Water prices could go up, impacting consumers far outside the city. Daniel Howes joined us for our weekly check-in to tell us more.

Also, Phil Cavanagh became the third candidate to enter the race to replace Robert Ficano as Wayne County Executive.

First on the show, Michigan's economy may be pulling itself up and out of the Great Recession.

But our schools are still mired in an "education recession" and all of our children are paying the price.

That's the finding of the newest State of Michigan Education Report from The Education Trust-Midwest.

It's an eye-opening exercise to see how our state's schools and student performance compares to two states that are powering ahead in the national assessment: Massachusetts and Tennessee.

What lessons can Michigan learn from those two states?

The co-author of the new education report, Amber Arellano of The Education Trust-Midwest, joined us today.

Arsenal of Democracy book cover.
http://wsupress.wayne.edu/

There is no question that Detroit and the automobile industry played a major role in the Allied victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. We’ve often heard southeast Michigan described as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

But not so well known is the struggle it took to turn the auto industry toward war production, particularly as women and African-American workers stepped up to take their places on the assembly lines.

Charles Hyde, professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University, joined us today. His new book is Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus will perform Brundibar this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The children's opera was originally performed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. 

In the 1940s, European Jews were sent to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. It was a transit camp where Jews were sent before being moved to other concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

The Nazis also used Theresienstadt in their propaganda efforts.

When it comes to support for emergency care services, the U.S. just barely squeaked by with a passing grade, at least according to a new state-by-state report card put out by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

And how did Michigan measure up, you might ask? Well, it turns out we're failing in access to emergency health care. We heard some recommendations about ways to move forward.

Then, we met a woman who’s trying to help people come together to have some uncomfortable, but enlightening, conversations about race, class and more.

And, we spoke with Daniel Howes about Tom Lewand, Detroit’s job czar.

Also, “Saturday Night Live” just hired its first black female cast member in five years. Will this bring more attention to other black comedians?

And, a Michigan historian gave us a closer look at how Michigan milkweed helped us in World War II.

Also, the Michigan Human Society has a new way to find homes for their animals: social media.

First on the show, how do you best measure the progress of students in Michigan's classrooms and, by extension, the effectiveness of their teachers?

It's one of the thorniest challenges being debated in Michigan education.

For years, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) have been the assessment tools. Now, with the move to the Common Core Standards, it's out with the MEAP and MME and in with the what?

Districts around Michigan are gearing up for an online adaptive assessment test in the spring of 2015.

The Michigan Department of Education says the state has only one option for testing students on the Common Core State Standards for the next three years.

And that option is the Smarter Balanced Assessment – the SBA.

But state lawmakers haven't made that official.

We wondered how districts  are preparing for the SBA or whatever test they're told to administer next year.

William Heath is the superintendent of the Morrice Area Schools and principal at Morrice Junior and Senior High School located in Shiawassee County. He joined us today.

Flickr user keithcarver / Flickr

Think about World War II and the ways Michigan helped the war effort: The Arsenal of Democracy, Rosie the Riveter, heavy bombers rolling off the assembly line at Willow Run.

And milkweed.

Yes, the common weed found in the northwest Lower Peninsula went to war.

Gerry Wykes is a historian and freelance author/illustrator who recently wrote about milkweed for Mlive and Michigan History Magazine. He joined us today to explain how this weed helped in the war effort.

Listen to the full interview above.

Veterans Day in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's Veterans Day, and all across Michigan, small ceremonies are taking place honoring the nation's military veterans.

A light rain fell in Flint as a small ceremony was held at 11 a.m.

Veterans Day has it's roots in the Armistice that ended World War I. Under the terms of the armistice, that war ended at "The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month."

Vietnam era veteran Raul Garcia told the small group assembled in front of Flint city hall of his pride of being part of a military family.

"To me, it's just a great pride to wear this uniform knowing that we are the greatest nation around," Garcia said. 

There are more than 650,000 military veterans in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

It’s almost five in the morning. It’s cold and still dark in Kalamazoo. It takes about 45 minutes to load 21 veterans, 15 wheelchairs and 22 helpers onto a charter bus.

A cheery, caffeinated voice comes over the bus’ loudspeaker, “Good morning everybody how are we doing?” Bobbi Bradley is president of “Talons Out” the new honor flight hub based in Kalamazoo. This is the group’s first mission. It had to raise $34,000 to pull it off.

The donations cover the cost of the day trip for all the veterans on board who are well into their 80s. Bradley says the trip isn’t something many of these vets can physically do on their own.

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