Scraponomics Episode 123: The importance of the scrap industry during WWII
“Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
— Vince Lombardi, Former head coach of the Green Bay Packers
We recently came across a history book that came in from one of the libraries we recycle books for; 150 years of Lansing. Friedland was listed in it with “scrap” written in parenthesis next to it.
The coolest photo we came across was of a guy collecting obsolete Oldsmobile keys to sell for scrap metal for the war effort. It reminded me of just how much the scrap industry contributed to society during World War II.
This is a topic not as known to millennials, but brings back a lot of memories for baby boomers. When the US entered WWII, every family was encouraged to play a part in helping the war effort. As men were deployed overseas, many women went to work in manufacturing. While the Rosie the Riveter campaign is popular in history even today, not as popular is the role the scrap industry played.
People were asked to scrap whatever possible to help in the manufacturing of things like artillery shells, tanks, and even bombers. Scrap was seen as such an important industry that it was exempt from the draft.
Despite this, my grandfather, Bernie Friedland, still decided to enlist. He was part of the second wave of troops at Normandy on D-Day, and helped liberate a couple of the concentration camps.
I don’t bring this up to glorify war. It’s not like people were happy at that time. It’s fascinating to me, though, how much society looked to the scrap industry for help during such a difficult time in history. Our individual commitment to the group effort potentially helped provide the US and allies with the resources they needed when they needed them most.
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