The Doolittle Raid in History and Memory
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSONAFB OH
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From the moment the first bomb fell on Tokyo, the Doolittle Raid had no chance of being a failure because the combination of history and memory would not allow such an assessment. Americans needed something that could validate their hopes of an eventual victory. Being the first positive news America had in the war, the public relished in the bombing of Tokyo. Newspapers, books, and films sensationalized the mission, and by the time the Second World War ended, the raid was rooted in Americas collective memory. From 1945 to 1966, the perceptions of the Doolittle Raid stabilized. The Raiders incorporated as an organization and held annual reunions. Literature created a much more complete story of the raid but as time passed, Americas memory of the mission faded. Although the living memory continued to fade, Americas interest in military history, and therefore the Doolittle Raid, flourished in the late 1970s to the mid 1980s. As a result, the Raiders annual reunions garnered more support and attracted more public interest. Since the bombing in April 1942, memory distortion played a vital role in reconstructing the Doolittle Raid so that the perceptions of the raid remained congruent with societal values.
- Humanities and History