Table Topics questions are meant to stimulate family and classroom discussion.
Use the questions below after reading,"Over here: gearing up for the fight"
- Seattle came into its own during the war. The availability of natural resources and job opportunities attracted a diverse group of people, started a building boom and created a more industrialized, cosmopolitan town. It also created a link to federal money and military contracts. How dependent is the Northwest on them today? Does war always produce economic good times? Do you think the "Cold War" contributed to the relative affluence of the '50s and early '60s?
- One irony of the war years was the surge of opportunity for the previously underemployed: women, African Americans and poor whites. Despite war's losses and sacrifices, life was better for many emerging from the struggles and poverty of the Depression. Can you think of recent public or personal events that have this character of "mixed blessing"? How would you feel as a woman or minority worker being "strongly urged" to give your job back to returning servicemen? Would this be legal today?
- The United States remained isolationist for a long while despite the world war raging beyond its borders. The attack on Pearl Harbor changed sentiments overnight. In recent years, American soldiers have been sent to wage war or stabilize warring countries in Haiti, the Sudan, Iraq and Bosnia. Do you think America should be involved in military campaigns that do not directly involve us? If so, what reasons make it acceptable to you? Are they practical and strategic in nature or based on an ethical commitment to aid countries in distress? This century has seen negative results of both appeasement and meddling in foreign wars. How would you define our responsibilities as "leader of the free world?"
- Many people look back on WWII as the last time our country was unified behind a common cause. Americans at home did what was necessary to support the war effort and felt proud of their sacrifices and contributions. What events in recent years have created a similar sense of communal purpose? Have you been personally involved in something with that kind of camaraderie? Given the diversity of opinion in our society today, do you think it possible for Americans to agree on a major issue or course of action? Does a bona fide crisis make it easier for people to come together?
- On the homefront, newspapers in Seattle had the vital function of providing essential information and keeping up civilian spirits. The Vietnam War, by contrast, was a "television war" that introduced a disturbing level of reality for civilians--and certainly didn't buoy spirits. Have war images become so graphic that it's difficult to support military action of any kind or are people desensitized to them? Should the media have unlimited access during a conflict or are there justifiable military reasons for restricting it? How and who should decide?
Copyright © 1996 The Seattle Times Company