World War Two is to be remembered for the tremendous amount of Americans who were mobilized one way or another to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese Empire. I hold no doubt that, of the two sides, one was clearly evil and the other just imperfect, and for the most part downright good. I know that in our modern era of deconstruction and fault-finding we rather enjoy pouring contempt on those upon whose shoulders our civilization rose, but I am not of that sort.
Yes, it was a tragedy that America and Britain had no choice but to side with the enemy of their enemy, the USSR, which WAS as baneful as the Japs and the Nazis in their own way. But sometimes when you are fighting for your life, you only have bad versus really bad options. Besides, while the USSR was baneful, the big difference is that had Hitler won his death count would have far exceeded Stalin's own. The only reason Stalin killed more people than Hitler was because Hitler had only 12 years and a little over 4 months time; Hitler would have slaughtered over 120 million people.
So I get that the US and Britain were good guys, even if imperfect and sometimes hypocritical. I don't understand why people, all of whom are just as imperfect and hypocritical in their own way, expect collective groups of people to be any less, how shall we say, "complicated." The two good guys sided with a slightly less, and seemingly more distant, bad guy to defeat horrendous regimes who posed an existential threat to human civilization. As bad as communism is, National Socialism and the ideology of the Japanese Empire, both based on extreme racist views, were worse. If we were to say World War Two was simply a reactive war against an aggressor, on that basis alone, I get why it was fought. But during the war both America and Britain spoke in terms of preserving something as well; their way of life. The Superman of the day fought for "Truth, Justice, and the American way!"
There are three things about our society back then that were bad, and had to be addressed: the plight of the black man and minorities in general, the status of women, and the abuse of children. It was not as if nobody saw this or didn't tried to change things. It was not as if every white person, or most, thought ill of black people, and it was certainly not as if more than a minority of parents abused their kids.
That society had its ills. Every society does. In the USSR of the time racism was pretty taboo (except against Jews), women were virtually equal, and parents were definitely punished for abusing their kids. But everyone was equally not well off materially, nobody was free, and the state enslaved and abused everyone regardless of race or age.
Even Nazi Germany was far ahead of the US in how women were treated, how children were raised, and in the absolute merit-based advancement of all, regardless of status. At least among the Germans, equality of the sexes, equality opportunity, egalitarianism, and social responsibility were achieved at high levels.
But even as a German, one never knew when the Geheimstaatspilozei (Gestapo) would come calling. You were always watched by the all-knowing Sicherheitdienst (SD), who had files on everyone. They didn't need the NSA, your neighbor or your own child worked for them.
Despite the flaws, and social ills, America was GOOD. The arc of our history made a progress on the foundation of Christian moral virtues toward a better and better society for all Americans. Our lives as a people may have been segregated from each other by race, and the yearnings of women to be on par were moving along, but not fast enough for some, but by the by, the average American was loved by a large family and connected to many other people, the average American could build and dream and not really face any serious hindrance. Society was moving along, but in a sensible and orderly fashion.
What supported society and guaranteed its progress was a core of Christian moral virtues revolving around fatherhood, motherhood, marriage, the family, and the extended families. It was the protestant work ethic. It was a view of the future compelled by hope and victory, of the ushering in of the Kingdom of God among men.
Did everybody believe this and embrace this? No. But of all the currents guiding The American Way, this current of Christian moral virtues and of a Christian mission to reach the nations, was what stayed true and constant.
If we ask what were the brave Americans in World War Two fighting for, well, at the gut level, it was their friends in the trenches , in the air, and on the ships at sea. But nearly all hoped and expected to come home to the world, the society, they grew up in. Sure, they became more enlightened on matters of race, women, and children, but the idea was always to improve on the basic goodness.
What they fought for on a positive note was the American way. That way of life was essentially a Christian lifestyle wrapped in the cocoon of the family and extended family. You can point out the exceptions, but this was the rule.
And so in the name of addressing the actual ills, our leaders began to push our society away from its goodness. It was a classic and tragic case of guilt by association wherein the Christian virtues which actually opposed the imperfections and wrongs, became themselves associated with those wrongs.
We are never going to want to restore 100% of the society and life of the 1940's, we recognize that we should hold onto what progress we have made. But even if we count and keep the gains, we see an equality of misery and empowerment, we see a devolution of moral virtue, and we see a deliberate effort to ensure every person born here is born alone, raised by people or a person likely to not be their natural parents. Rather than restore the 1940's culture in all aspects, we should restore it in its best aspects, those aspects of truth, justice, and the American way that can apply to all, men and women of every race or ethnicity.
What the American GI fought foreign powers to protect, was destroyed by his own leaders from within. The true America of that era, warts and all, has fallen. That way of life does not exist except in the memories of those who still study and celebrate the America that was, thankful for progress where it has been made but mourning the fact that most of America's essential goodness is ostracized, deconstructed, and hated by most of the leaders and institutions of this country.
The 1940's were the last chance for America to keep her essential goodness while still advancing in areas of weakness or hypocrisy. By the 1960's the decision was made to throw out the good because of the bad.
The World War Two generations fought to stop true evil, and they succeeded. They also fought to preserve their way of life, and in that they were betrayed by their leaders.