World War II, in contrast to later doubtful causes such as the Vietnam War, often glows in American memory as a heroic endeavor whose fighters could all discern, believe in, and eagerly pursue their noble mission. Certainly Nazi atrocities against Jews and other scapegoats demanded intervention, but the U.S. government “did not enter the war to save Jews” and impeded Jewish immigration even when it knew of the death camps (Shalom 113–17). Similarly, few GIs at the time cited persecution as their reason for serving in the armed forces. Instead, this conflict may have been one of America’s “least ideologically motivated” wars, where a depressingly scant five percent of enlisted men possessed any “clear understanding of the threat to democracy posed by fascism” (Adams, Best War 88). So why did they fight?
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