The USO was founded in 1941 in response to a request from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide morale and recreation services to US uniformed military personnel. Roosevelt was elected as its honorary chairman. This request brought together six civilian organizations: the Salvation Army, Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA), Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Service, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board. They were brought together under one umbrella to support US troops. Roosevelt said he wanted “these private organizations to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces.” According to historian Emily Yellin, “The government was to build the buildings and the USO was to raise private funds to carry out its main mission: boosting the morale of the military.” After being formed in 1941 in response to World War II, “centers were established quickly… in churches, barns, railroad cars, museums, castles, beach clubs, and log cabins.” Most centers offered recreational activities, such as holding dances and showing movies. And there were the well-known free coffee and doughnuts. Some USO bases provided a haven for spending a quiet moment alone or writing a letter home, while others offered spiritual guidance and made childcare available for military wives. But the organization became mostly known for its live performances called Camp Shows, through which the entertainment …
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