The Fighting Seabees: Propaganda Films Of Wwii

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In 1989, when I arrived at Construction Battalion Center, Port Hueneme, California for Builder Apprentice School, I was marched into the base theatre and shown a movie. I like thousands of men and women before me, was being unknowingly shown propaganda in the name of history and tradition. I watched John Wayne and Susan Hayward explain the history of the US Navy Seabees with a little romance thrown in. When the movie was over, even more than before, I wanted to be a Seabee. The movie The Fighting Seabees, was used from its release in 1944 to recruit men into the newly formed construction fields of the Navy, as well as show the American people how persistence and fortitude in the face of adversity would win the war. Although primarily made to recruit men into the Navy Civil Engineer Corps and Seabees, this film was also used as propaganda ("Seabee historical foundation," 2011). The audience is shown the true evil of the enemy when you watch the industrious hardworking men of the Donovan Construction company being attacked by the Japanese troops. As non-military men, these construction men were non-combatants and as such were unarmed. American moviegoers watched in horror as the Japanese overran the construction site, destroyed the fuel tanks being built and killed many civilians as well as the Seamen who were protecting them. Showing this true to history act of violence by the enemy demonized them no other movie could. Since the main goal of the movie was recruitment, Hollywood had a hard time showing why men who were making large sums of money (up to $600 a month), should enlist in the Navy and reduce their income ( the average recruit earned $34 a month) by such a great amount. One scene in the movie is attributed with recruiting more Seabees than all other recruitment campaigns of the war effort("Seabee historical foundation," 2011) . The scene

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