Nine years is a relatively short amount of time to change lives, community, and environment. Luckily, Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t let that thought stop him when he created the Civilian Conservation Corps through his impactful New Deal which created over 59 agencies that worked to help America get out of the Depression Era.
The Great Depression was a devastating period of time in America that impacted every facet of family life. Food was in short supply, jobs were scarce, families were large and hope was wanning.
The year 1933 began to change that…the Depression had already dumped four years of hardship on families and the country. Franklin D. Roosevelt became the President and promised the country a New Deal. He created many agencies that would ultimately turn the country around…but those things took time.
When he created the Civilian Conservation Corps it was intended to take young men out of the city who were on the “help” line or what would today be called welfare. The CCC did in fact help many young city men to leave the city life and got plenty of young men out of an environment of trouble. When some of the young men/boys didn’t want to leave the city…boys from the country also went. If the young men couldn’t work during this time, they were a drain on the family food supply; the CCC provided a solution to that by sending the young men to the camps…not only didn’t their families have to feed them…they could in turn, send home money helping to support their family at home. The requirements were such that the young men were supposed to be 18 years of age, collecting help or welfare benefits, and were willing to leave their families to go to the CCC camps.
The work was hard. The environment was sometimes empty lands that the “boys” had to clear and build their own shelters that would eventually become the camp barracks. The discipline was tough because it had to be. The camps often were blending boys from city life with boys from country life. The times were tough…and many men and boys came without much clothing. The camps provided uniforms to wear, food to eat, a place to stay, and a purpose for the young men and boys during a time when left to their own devices, many were prone to get into trouble. The uniforms helped to instill pride in the work that they performed…for their families, their communities, and their country.
The work that the CCC did was varied around the country…but, basically, they built roads, dams, installed telephone lines, paved roads, built state and national parks, built dams, constructed fire breaks to help control fire damage, planted forests and so much more.
In return for the priviledge of being clothed in uniform and taking pride in the work that they were able to accomplish, the young men had to agree to the payment plan. That payment included three meals a day, housing, clothing, and $30 dollars a month…the men were allowed to keep $5 dollars of that money and the rest was sent home to help their parents; or, if they were married with dependents, then they sent home the $25 to their spouse to help take care of their responsibilities. Many of the young men had to not only leave their homes but some even had to go to camps out of their home states.
This program, the CCC was wonderful at rebuilding a sense of pride in young men who did not want to take help from the government…it allowed them to feel as though they were once again restoring their families by the manual labor that they did. At the same time, the CCC used the young men to construct projects that impacted the country in ways that; to this day, we are able to reap the rewards from. The work ethic that the men exibited during this time was to set a standard for generations to learn from. It was run with a military type environment…not quite a boot camp…but strong discipline and lots of physical labor. Often, the men went on to join the armed forces and used the skills they learned through the CCC to help the military in other areas around the world.
Many of the parks and dams still exist and are enjoyed. The CCC camps lasted 9 years; this year honored the celebration of its 75 anniversity. The CCC put over 2.5 million young men and boys to work. They planted over 200 million trees…my own grandfather was a part of that. In the area where he worked…they planted pine trees that still stand to this day. In the area where he worked…those trees were instrumental to helping to stop the progression of a 10 acre parcel of desert which turned into over 1000 acres before the trees were able to do their job. That gave farming families a chance to regain their farm land which provided their families a place to live and plant their food supply.
All of the men who joined the CCC did work to be proud of. They worked hard, they sacrificed time away from their families and they provided for other members of their families by doing so. Many formed long lasting friendships with their co-workers and all had stories to tell when their time was done. It is a legacy that should not be forgotten. All of the work was important and should be honored. Many of the workers are gone now…some are living still and to them all…we owe a big thank you! Do you know anyone who worked for the CCC? How did it impact their life? How does it affect the environment where you live today? Should we organize something similar today to help our economy, our youth, and our country? https://writeasrain.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/impact-action-team-makes-a-difference-in-the-world-through-boot-camp-training/