What the Army’s First Public Relations Scandal of WWII Reveals About America in 1941
In the summer of 1941, the U.S. Army suddenly found itself embroiled in its first public relations scandal of World War II. After the draft, but before Pearl Harbor shattered the peace, a small unit of American soldiers was punished by their commanding general for catcalling a group of women wearing shorts on a public street. The soldiers’ behavior and the women’s attire sparked a controversy that extended well beyond the incident itself. The ensuing public debate did cover changing social norms, but it really centered on how and why the soldiers were punished, ultimately revealing different expectations of how the American people believed their Army should treat citizen soldiers in peacetime.
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Who is Tom Arnold?
Thomas D. Arnold is a U.S. Army strategist and Goodpaster Fellow currently assigned to the Corcoran History Department at the University of Virginia. He is a second year PhD student, examining Army media relations from 1939–59. His research interests focus on modern American military history, the Cold War, and African American history. Tom is originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, and has served in command and staff assignments in Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, Louisiana, and the Pentagon. He holds graduate degrees from Louisiana Tech University and Harvard University. After completing his studies at UVA, Tom will return to duty with the Army as a strategic planner and policy advisor.