“Buy war bonds” Poster

Original WWII Poster

Any wartime poster directed at a domestic audience carries several messages simultaneously.  It must stoke the fires of national pride and determination; it must show that one’s victory is inevitable; and it must inculcate a degree of urgency in civilians by illustrating the sacrifices of the warfighters at the front.

Although such messages can be stated blatantly, they are more effective when done with the subtle touch.  This 1942 poster, with its focus on an iconic Uncle Sam, does exactly that.  The vivid evocation of the massive figure catalyzes patriotic sentiments in the viewer, sentiments which are all the more powerful given the grand figure’s heavy, flag-draped burden. 

Uncle Sam, wreathed in smoke and surrounded by long lines of heavy bombers and advancing soldiers, also presents an image of indomitable strength.  This is one of the most crucial messages a government can get across to its citizens – "We are absolutely going to win.  Your help makes victory all the more certain."  Nothing energizes the population like the thought of victory. 

The final message in this very effective poster is carried across with a great mixture of subtlety and bluntness.  The viewer sees Uncle Sam, the soldiers, and the airmen all marching resolutely toward victory.  These images hint that "we’re doing our part, are you?"  And, lest these signals be missed, the poster plainly instrucuts the viewer what his part is – to buy war bonds.

(Unfortunately, there is little information about this poster other than the date of its creation.  It is attributed to the wartime activites of the Government Printing Office – no specific artist is named as its creator.)

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