Submitted by Dick Martin
As 1944 dawned, Victory was in the air. The officials in Washington were worried that overconfidence would become their number one enemy. To counter this, Washington devised an ingenious series of pep rallies culminating in the January 1944 Army-Navy show at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Film studios provided sets built by Navy Seabees, where a mock battle was fought, ending with a flag waving rendition of “God Bless, America.”
The public relations offensive began with a two-day meeting in January with 650 Industrial leaders and labor leaders, public officials, and radio and newspaper executives in Los Angeles. The governments message was clear: “Don’t let up because the war Is far from over.”
Nearly a quarter of a million-people jammed the coliseum for the climatic show. Craftsman had converted the football field to a lifelike Pacific atoll, complete with palm trees and enemy fortifications. Enemy soldiers, supplied by the 140th Infantry Regiment, stormed the field with blank grenades and machine-gun fire. As spectators watched the attack, bright searchlights pierced the sky as wave after wave of US Army Air Force planes zoomed over the stadium.
With ears ringing and heads spinning, the audiences stood and recited a solemn pledge to “devote themselves wholeheartedly to the war effort.” The show ended with a rousing version of “God Bless America.” The stay-the-course show was repeated in San Francisco. The show worked, and war production soared throughout America in 1944.
Summarized from “Storm the Coliseum,” in the June 2017 World War II magazine.