News-Miner opinion: The fuse that ignited World War II was lit just over 80 years ago, on Sept. 1, 1939, when Hitler’s Germany attacked Poland.
Then, as now, Alaska’s position on the globe became a concern here. Defense of the territory arose as something needing attention.
A Daily News-Miner editorial, published 80 years ago today, made note of Alaska’s strategic location and its apparent lack of defenses. At the time, the fear was that an undefended Alaska would be an entry point for a hostile power to attack deep into North America.
Nowadays, Alaska is home to a large number of military forces, and the state’s strategic location continues to be touted, albeit for different reasons than it was 80 years ago: Military forces stationed here can reach numerous places on the globe in short order.
Eighty years ago, though, fear for Alaska was real as World War II began. You can sense it in the words of the Daily News-Miner editorial published Sept. 6, 1939:
Alaska and World War Status
What of Alaska’s position relative to the world war now opening with its far sweeping effect?
This question is uppermost in minds of every resident Alaskan or anyone having to do with Alaska.
First of all are the questions of defense and territory and the welfare of her industries.
It is patent that never before was the territory so much in need of every possible means of defense — and by this token the Army and Navy projects for the purpose should be speeded to completion as rapidly as possible. It’s no time to hesitate or lag.
If anything, the appropriations for Army and Navy bases should be increased at the first opportunity and the country made impregnable at the earliest possible date.
Should America become involved, there is no telling where enemy forces may strike, and it would be nothing short of folly to leave the largest and most vulnerable territorial possession of America exposed to attack and a stepping stone to continental America.
Doubtless the administration and the high command of the Army and Navy services appreciate these facts. Alaskans giving the matter the merest of thought appreciate them. Staunch support of every Alaskan factor, individually and collectively, at this critical time is vital and will go far in making doubly sure of the security of Alaska and the safeguarding of the gateway to the heart of the continent.