TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A new exhibit curated by the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University, the Florida Historic Capitol Museum and Camp Blanding Museum explores the conflict’s impact on Florida and the many ways in which the state contributed to the war effort.
The exhibit, “Rendezvous with Destiny: Florida and WWII,” opened Tuesday — the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor — at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee and runs through March 20, 2022.
Along with exploring Florida’s role in the war, the exhibit also examines the controversy around joining the war, which largely evaporated after the Pearl Harbor attack, and the impact of that battle.
“Florida played a major role in the war, and the war had a major impact on Florida,” said Kurt Piehler, associate professor of history and director of The Institute on WWII and the Human Experience. “The war fostered a remarkable wave of volunteerism by Floridians who bought defense bonds, participated in scrap drives, entertained troops at local USO clubs and served as air raid wardens. As draft age men went off to war, women entered the workforce to replace them in unprecedented numbers.”
The state was home to several training facilities, including Camp Blanding, which housed 55,000 soldiers at a time. American aviators trained in Florida, notably at Naval Air Station Pensacola, and pilots from other Allied nations, including the United Kingdom and China, also received training. The coast itself was a war zone and was the site of multiple sinkings of merchant ships by German U-boats.