The two World Wars in which America was involved had a tremendous impact on not only the solders who fought, but also the ordinary citizens. War is characterized as a time of great change and indicates a problem with the status quo. Therefore, during these wars, as with any, Americans had to cope with some deviations from the norms in their daily lives and come to terms with exactly what kind of impact a war can have on the general population. Not only did the people face the possibility of risking their own lives fighting, but they also had to deal with the loss of loved ones and a lack of many of the frivolries that could be enjoyed during peacetime. Because of all of the changes and difficulties that accompany war, post-war eras are usually characterized as times of conservatism. People tend to cling to rather old- fashioned ideas and practices. Many times this conservatism is a result of the worry that another war could be around the corner. While the two World Wars took place in very different times and for very different purposes, they managed to have similar impacts on the citizens of America.
World War I is referred to by many the first truly modern war. New weapons and techniques made for a very deadly and confusing conflict for those who fought. They had all new fears such as more advanced firearms, bombs, and the dreaded mustard gas. Louis Felix Ranlett describes this fear from his experience in the trenches in France by stating, "It was not the fear of any specific injury that I experienced, just an overpowering sense of the terrible unusual, the unknown that might happen" (Firsthand II, 174). Living through such a war where no one knew what to expect, the times afterward were characterized by an air of conservatism. Perhaps one of the most apparent examples of this return to basics was in the Scopes Trial of 1925. Tennessee law had made it illegal to teach "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals" (Firsthand II, 136).