If you’ve ever visited Washington D.C. and the wonderful sites and monuments, you may find a nondescript and slightly forlorn gazebo-type structure, erected a little out of the way on the National Mall. It is simply marked as “The War To End All Wars”. Why isn’t it called the WWI Memorial? Because WWII had not happened yet. At the end of WWI, the U.S. had a large population of returning veterans, with little in the way of support to help them reintegrate into society. However, the end of WWII had 15.7 Million veterans coming home. A new piece of legislation was introduced by the American Legion and backed by the VFW known as the “G.I. Bill” to provide opportunities for the returning veteran.
Some experts point to the GI Bill as the most influential legislation in the history of our country. It’s impact on the lives of returning veterans right after WWII was instrumental in housing development, educational opportunities and growth of the middle class. The education benefits of this legislation made higher education obtainable for the average person, where previously a college education was generally sought after by the very wealthy. New legions of college-educated veterans were unleashed into society.
The availability of the new VA Loan program for returning veterans caused a building boom for affordable family homes that has never been repeated. Housing stock was severely limited at the end of the war and home builders created enclaves of country-type developments with city services, known as “suburbs”, marketing to the veteran buyers. Our current housing stock in this part of Ohio and throughout the country is a testament to that time period when it all began, as many of our neighborhoods were developed post WWII to satisfy the needs and demands of those returning veterans. Along with those suburbs and the influx of vested homeowners in the community came road and infrastructure development, shopping and service areas, industrial growth, business expansion and medical facilities.
As I sit here on the eve of Memorial Day 2016, I am taken back to stories of life right after WWII that my father would tell us. He was a WWII veteran, home builder, draftsman and designer. He talked of the building boom right after the war. He was a young apprentice carpenter at the time and worked on all of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes built in Stark County, along with many others. And when I tour a home built just after WWII, I appreciate the quality, insight, design and durability it provides. Many REALTORS® in our area are veterans or children of veterans. They understand, appreciate and champion the virtues of private property rights and do their best to make sure those property rights continue for generations to come.
As appearing in The Repository 6-3-16