In the seventy-plus years of discourse formed about World War II since the conflict ended, the relationship between religion and war has not been one that has gained the utmost attention. Given all of the grandiose, pivotal international affairs that dominated the global war scene during the 1930s and the 1940s, it is not difficult to understand why something so grounded and specific like the Protestant identities of American servicemen became overshadowed and trivialized. However, it indeed deserves our attention because we can then gain a better understanding of perhaps how American Protestants reconciled their duty to serve their country challenged by the basic tenets of their religion.
The relationship between religion and war was a tense one. Torn between the necessity of World War II and their own Christian morality, these veterans truly faced the “ultimate dilemma” during this time that they could not necessarily ever resolve. They tried to make sense of this quandary in a number of ways, including withdrawing to their religious identities to escape from the terror and carnage of war; interpreting the necessity and righteousness of war as the key to their survival; and redeeming their lives after their service that they could not redeem during the war.
In any case, American Protestant World War II veterans seemed to use their religion actively and profoundly to understand what still remains an unfathomable and difficult period in American and world history.