In 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States found itself in a total war, the people of Texas rallied to the war effort. Men and women rushed to join the armed forces. Those who remained behind—men, women, and children—were soldiers on the home front: they rolled bandages, spotted aircraft, trained for air raids, filled jobs left vacant by service men, collected scrap scrimped and saved and got by with rationed sugar, meat, shoes, tires, and gas. Texas became a center for training and equipping the greatest war machine the world had ever seen.
World War II changed Texas from oil and cattle and cotton to industry and agribusiness. The technology that grew out of the war—radar, television, jet aircraft, air conditioning for the masses—made a Texas that had not been imagined before 1941. And the Texans themselves changed, as they left the state for foreign places and for other parts of the United States. They left the country for the city to work in industry and most would never return to the farm except in retirement years.