Feb 5 1941
By February of 1941, over 1.1 million people had enlisted.
The USO was founded in 1941 by Mary Ingraham in response to a request from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel. Roosevelt was elected as its honorary chairman. This request brought together six civilian organizations: the Salvation Army, YMCA, Young Women's 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 U.S. 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."
They did not serve alcohol, and were often run by married women who served as matrons and did everything from acting as chaperones to doling out food and advice to servicemen.
But for many soldiers, the real attractions of the centers were the “junior hostesses” who were on hand to dance and socialize. (These women were subject to strict morality checks, and many saw the USO as a parent-sanctioned place to mingle with men.) Some USO canteens were segregated, but others welcomed African-American soldiers and hostesses.
Today, the USO has over 160 volunteer-staffed centers worldwide