When you think of NC State’s greatest victories, the image of of Jim Valvano running around for someone to hug after the 1983 NCAA basketball championship is an easy go-to. Or the 1974 upset of UCLA in the national semifinals.
There’s more, sure. The march to the 1968 College World Series. The Wolfpack’s win over Houston on the gridiron in 1967.
But NC State was home to a different kind of triumph in the early 1940s, and it’s one that stacks up to the others nonetheless.
With America approaching its first full year of involvement in World War II, there was a national movement afoot in 1942 to help in any way possible on the home front. And one of the ways U.S. citizens tried to help was by salvaging their metal, rubber and other waste that could be used to make weapons and machinery.
So it was on this day 72 years ago that NC State students collected a scrap metal pile that totaled more than 150,000 pounds in less than three hours during what they called the “Battle of Scrap.”
“One purpose of their round-up was to demonstrate the tremendous possibilities for salvage on the average campus and to prove that hard work will pay big dividends in boosting the war effort by scrap metal thus collected,” The Technician reported.
The effort was so impressive that it started to attract national headlines, according to The Technician. “The story of [the students’] stupendous effort was sent throughout the nation on press association wires, with attention called to the students’ challenge to other schools to surpass the State College collection.”
The students were so swept up in the scrap frenzy that they saw it important to place what The Technician termed “a personal message to the Axis” on top of the pile with a banner reading, “To HITLER & CO. FROM N.C. STATE COLLEGE.”