See One of the Top Entries in the Historical Society’s Essay Contest

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Each year, the Historical Society of Watertown sponsors an award for the best history essay submitted by a high school student, and Watertown News will feature the winning essays.

Students had their choice of four themes: an individual, ethnic group, landmark or historical event in Watertown and its significance to the town and region.

The 1st place winner received $300; the 2nd and 3rd place winners received $100 each. The winners of the Historical Society Awards were chosen by a panel of Historical Society Council members. The awards were presented in June in the high school lecture hall.

The Historical Society said it appreciates the effort taken by Social Studies Coordinator Kraig Gustafson and the high school staff to encourage students to develop an interest in the history of their town.

“We look forward to reading the essays every year. We hope you enjoy reading them, too,” the announcement from the Historical Society said.

Today, the third place essay is featured:


BY Kareem Alhady

In 1939 when the Second World War began, the people of the United States unified to help the war effort and support the cause in any which way that they could. People of all kinds found similar beliefs in protecting their freedoms and contributed to the United States intervention in WW2. As these different people came together, cities and towns joined in as well and put their differences apart in order to show their support. One of these towns that decided to contribute to the war effort was our hometown of Watertown, which contributed through the construction of an Arsenal. (Editor’s note: The original buildings were constructed in 1816. Many others were built during the years as needed, especially during war years.) Caught in the midst of violence, Watertown found that its assistance could be needed and because of the support that Watertown and its Arsenal contributed, The United States benefited as a whole due to the supply of weapons and labor.

When the War first broke out, The United States began a shift in the type of manufacturing it was making, and instead of producing home goods and things that interested the buyers, the businesses began to manufacture goods that would help the war effort. The production of aircrafts and weapons began and because of the supply that the U.S. needed at the time, Watertown constructed the Arsenal in which the production of steel artillery began as well as railroads. With this assistance that the Arsenal provided, not only did Watertown contribute to the war effort by manufacturing goods used in war, but also the production of a railroad, provided the U.S. with methods to transport items. Watertown provided America with the ability to transfer goods throughout the country which played a major role in the War because of the importance of providing the U.S. military with its necessities to fight off the enemy.

A second great importance of the Watertown Arsenal during WW2 was its effect as being a research lab. WW2 is greatly known for the Atomic Bombs that were sent out against Japan and the fear in the enemy it caused to help bring the war to an end. The Arsenal contributed to the understanding of nuclear weapons because of a research nuclear reactor which was used for molecular and atomic structure research, and because of this, scientists in America were able to understand the way atoms work which prospered the production of nuclear bombs. (Editor’s note: the nuclear reactor at the Arsenal was built in 1959.) The Arsenal in Watertown also benefitted America during WW2 by being used as a storage (facility) and providing the military with whatever weapons that were needed to be constructed. With these war efforts that the Watertown Arsenal provided, the U.S. was changed as a whole in being more successful during this Great War, and from the support that Watertown provided as well as other towns like Watertown, the production of military equipment for the army was never viewed as an issue.

A third example as to how Watertown’s actions during World War 2 played a major role in the success of the war effort, was not only through the weapons that the Arsenal provided for the military, but also through the labor that the Arsenal opened up for American families in order to contribute for the success of their nation. During WW2, the Watertown Arsenal expanded in size, and employed 10,000 laborers to help in manufacturing weapons. This number might not appear to be huge, but back in the mid 1900s Watertown was only a small town and by it contributing through providing labor for that many people, shows the importance of Watertown during this time. Watertown was not the only town assisting the nation in its need for equipment because of the major support coming from the greater industrialized cities, however Watertown which was only a small town at the time, was capable of providing labor far greater than its size. Unlike the support of Boston which was a major city at the time.

The Arsenal of Watertown shows the support that such a small town made back then. And because of its labor, the Arsenal provided work, not only helping the war effort but the economy itself which was just recovering from the Great Depression. The Arsenal in Watertown focused in the arms and materials research for the Military which was a major role in America’s Army. With the research the Arsenal provided, the U.S. prospered in its growth of technological innovation and helped push this nation to the top during the 1940s. The Arsenal offered America the ability to succeed and with the construction of it, great war efforts were provided from Watertown.

In 1816, the Arsenal in Watertown was built to provide advances in innovation, but as World War 2 came to be, the Arsenal shifted its production to help the war effort. Watertown which at first was just a spectator during the War became a town which provided great assistance during the war and funded the military with war goods to fight off the enemy. The Arsenal provided labor to help boost the economy, and created whatever artillery was needed to counter enemy forces. Research was done to help spur new ideas in technology and under the research on atoms, a greater understanding of nuclear weapons came to be. Watertown became known as a great influence in WW2, and because of the creation of the Arsenal which remains in great condition to today’s time, our town was beneficial to the U.S. through its assistance with the war effort.

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