Before December 7 th , 1941, few Americans felt that their country belonged in the war. Isolationism was a popular sentiment across the political spectrum, and the nation had remained almost entirely unscathed by the carnage happening on the other sides of the Atlantic and Pacific. America was happy to lease large amounts of war materials to its allies, but that was about as far as most people were willing to go. Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Even though it was a near fatal blow to the . Pacific fleet, it was to prove one of the costliest mistakes Japan could make. The sleeping giant had been awakened and the .’s full entry into the war was a foregone conclusion. To galvanize the rage that Americans felt, the government produced one of the most stirring propaganda posters ever made, “Remember December 7 th .” A haunting image of a tattered American flag resolutely swaying against a burning black sky, it perfectly captured the emotion of its intended audience. And more importantly, it inspired more than one able-bodied man to visit the local recruiting office.
Education efforts on the effects of nuclear weapons proceeded with stops-and-starts in the US due to competing alternatives. In a once classified, 1950s era, US war game that looked at varying levels of war escalation, warning and pre-emptive attacks in the late 1950s early 1960s, it was estimated that approximately 27 million US citizens would have been saved with civil defense education.  At the time however the cost of a full-scale civil defense program was regarded as lesser in effectiveness, in cost-benefit analysis than a ballistic missile defense ( Nike Zeus ) system, and as the Soviet adversary was believed to be rapidly increasing their nuclear stockpile , the efficacy of both would begin to enter a diminishing returns trend.  When more became known about the cost and limitations of the Nike Zeus system, in the early 1960s the head of the department of defense determined once again that fallout shelters would save more Americans for far less money.