Golf In A Plague Year March 31: Arsenal of Democracy

Golf In A Plague Year March 31: Arsenal of Democracy

This has nothing to do with golf, but I am impressed with how American manufacturers, entrepreneurs and inventors have harnessed their energies to fight the Coronavirus. As a history teacher, it strikes me that it is a latter day parallel to the WWII “Arsenal of Democracy.”

The Willow Run Bomber Plant

My home course, Green Oaks, is in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a stone’s throw from the famed Willow Run Bomber plant, which produced 9,000 B-24 Liberator Bombers during World War II. Ford’s Willow Run plant was designed by Albert Kahn and had a mile-long assembly line. At its peak, the Willow Run bomber plant produced a new bomber every hour.

The Albert Kahn -designed clubhouse at the Detroit Golf Club

Kahn, known as the “Architect of Detroit,” also designed — among others — the Ford River Rouge complex, the Packard Plant, the art deco Fisher Building, the Belle Isle Conservatory and numerous buildings at the University of Michigan. Kahn also made his mark on golf, designing the clubhouse of the Detroit Golf Club, host of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

A bomber from Willow Run flies over Green Oaks Golf Course.

In the wake of the Coronavirus, Ford has teamed with GE Healthcare and the UAW to build 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days. The ventilators will be built at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, just 11 minutes drive from Willow Run.

The UAW workers are all paid volunteers who will work on three shifts.

Other American companies also are stepping up to produce the masks and gowns needed by health care workers. In this war, the front lines are not held by riflemen, but by nurses and doctors.

For what it’s worth, some sources say that the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster is based on Rose Will Monroe, who worked at Willow Run Bomber Plant. Monroe also was featured in a promotional film for war bonds.

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