Fly your flag for Navy Day, October 27, 2016

October 26, 2016

A reminder to fly your U.S. flags tomorrow in honor of the U.S. Navy.

We celebrate Navy Day each year on October 27, one of the score of dates designated in the U.S. Flag Code to fly Old Glory.

Navy Day may be eclipsed by Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day in modern life, but it’s still in the law and the Navy still notes it.

So should we.

You get an idea of the celebrations from some of the old Navy Day posters. (If you can put a year on posters undesignated, please tell us in comments; if you know of a poster not shown here, please give a link in comments.)

Navy Day poster, after World War I

Navy Day poster, after World War I


This may have been used as a Navy Day poster after the death of Theodore Roosevelt, a former, popular Secretary of the Navy. Crasch McDuff blog

This may have been used as a Navy Day poster after the death of Theodore Roosevelt, a former, popular Secretary of the Navy. Crash MacDuff blog


Navy Day poster, post World War I, pre-World War II

Navy Day poster, post World War I, pre-World War II

Navy Day poster, 1931; Crash MacDuff blog

Navy Day poster, 1931; Crash MacDuff blog


Navy Day poster, early 1940s

Navy Day poster, early 1940s, featuring the battleship USS New Jersey.
Illustration by Matt Murphey


Navy Day poster, 1940s

Navy Day poster, 1940s


Two more 1940s Navy Day posters

Two more 1940s Navy Day posters


Navy Day poster, 1944

Navy Day poster, 1944


Billboard showing art similar to the poster, Navy Day 1944

Billboard showing art similar to the poster, Navy Day 1944. History 101 image


Navy Day Poster, 1945

Navy Day Poster, 1945


Navy Day Poster from after World War II (?)

Navy Day Poster from after World War II (?)


Navy Day poster, 1947, Crash MacDuff blog

Navy Day poster, 1947, Crash MacDuff blog. “Issued September 1947. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 78860.”


Navy Day poster, 1940s, perhaps. From an eBay listing

Navy Day poster, 1940s, perhaps. From an eBay listing





Today in history memory: Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, July 28, 1914

July 28, 2015

101 years ago today. Let us remember, and never forget.

Wikipedia photo and caption: Austro-Hungarian troops executing captured Serbians, 1917. Serbia lost about 850,000 people during the war, a quarter of its pre-war population.

Wikipedia photo and caption: Austro-Hungarian troops executing captured Serbians, 1917. Serbia lost about 850,000 people during the war, a quarter of its pre-war population.

According to the Associated Press, today is the anniversary of the declaration of war that really got World War I started: Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.

Serbian South slav nationalists assassinated Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie in Sarajevo, the traditional a Serbian capital then held by Austria, the previous June. After a summer of demands on Serbia by Austria, which Serbia could not or would not meet, Austria declared war.

As more nations declared war on each other through August and the rest of 1914, most people expected it to be a “short” war.

Peace is difficult. It must be worked on every day. But war is disaster.


Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Unintentional bogus history: Archduke Ferdinand assassinated! British lead assault on Damascus!

June 30, 2014

Santayana said it:  Those who don’t remember history, yada, yada, yada.

It almost turned Dada-esque over the weekend, when a Syrian television editor mistook a “history-as-it-happened” Twitter feed for actual events.

One reason to learn history, I tell students, is so that you cannot be jived by politicians and others who wish to persuade you falsely.  Add to that:  So you won’t be suckered by false news reports when you’re at the editor’s desk.

I wonder how many hoaxes get started this way?

Is that today's newspaper? Toronto Daily Star, June 29, 1914. Not today's edition.

Is that today’s newspaper? Toronto Daily Star, June 29, 1914. Not today’s edition.

January 18, 1919: Paris Peace Talks open, ending World War I

January 18, 2014

Coming just after World War I, stuck rather at the beginning of the end of the Progressive Era, the Paris Peace Conference that led to the Treaty of Versailles get shorted in most history books.

The talks are difficult to explain easily.  And serious dipping of toes into these historical waters turns up the errors of the resulting treaty, including the onerous provisions saddled on Germany, and the oft-portrayed-as-betrayal of the Arabian allies of the Allies, whose lands were carved up with formal borders creating new nations where tribes previously didn’t bother with such formalities.  The treaty’s errors in Europe resulted in World War II, and the treaty’s errors in the Middle East plague the world still.

Woodrow Wilson took his 14 Points to France, won some  of them with the Europeans, but later lost the entire ballgame with the U.S. Senate.  His frantic, public campaign for ratification of the Treaty probably contributed to his stroke, which left him disabled for the remainder of his presidency and the rest of his life.

No wonder people want to forget it.

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of World War I, which started with the June 1914 assassination of  Austria’s Crown Prince, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, formerly in the Republic of Serbia but at the time under the captive thumb of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Maybe we should strive to understand the Paris Peace Conference better, to better understand how we got into those messes, and how we might yet get out of the remaining ones.

The Library of Congress’s Today in History feature carries this very nice, concise write-up:

The Paris Peace Conference

Portions of Territory Proposed to be taken from Germany,
December 31, 1919.
Newspaper Pictorials: World War I Rotogravures, 1913-1919

On January 18, 1919, a few months after the end of World War I, leaders from the Allied nations began a series of discussions that became known as the Paris Peace Conference to settle issues raised by the war and its aftermath. Preceded by a series of armistices in September, October, and November 1918, that ended World War I, the Paris Peace Conference brought together representatives from the victorious nations. Russia had withdrawn from the fighting and was not invited. Because Allied leaders held Germany responsible for the war, German leaders attended only the conclusion of the discussions.

Preliminary meetings between the leaders began on January 12, 1919, after British Prime Minister David Lloyd George arrived in Paris.  Lloyd George, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, and Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy emerged as the leaders of the conference and became known as the Big Four. The conference ended approximately one year later when the League of Nations, an international organization adapted from one of President Woodrow Wilson‘s Fourteen Points plan for peace, was organized.

political cartoon showing two men, one gesturing towards the other
The seance that failed,
C. K. Berryman, artist,
circa 1918-19.
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

group of four men standing outside a building

“Big Four” — Photo by Edward Jackson.
Photo shows “Big Four” world leaders at World War I Peace Conference in Paris, May 27, 1919. From left to right: Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Premier Vittorio Orlando, Premier Georges Clemenceau, and President Woodrow Wilson.
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).  Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

political cartoon of a man looking at a large scroll of paper labeled peace treaty
At Last!,
C. K. Berryman,
July 10, 1919.
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Wilson’s idealistic Fourteen Points generated heated opposition from Clemenceau and Lloyd George in particular as each disagreed on the details of how to proceed. Eventually, however, the League of Nations was formed in 1919-20 as an alternative to traditional diplomacy. The United States did not join, in part because of opposition and disagreement among a group of powerful U.S. senators led by Foreign Relations Committee Chair Henry Cabot Lodge. The discussions also resulted in the 1919 signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, the Treaty of Saint-Germain with Austria, and the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria.


Veterans Day 2012 – Fly your flag today

November 11, 2012

Veterans Administration poster for Veterans Day 2012, “Honoring All Who Served” (Click for link to high resolution download version)

Fly your flag today for Veterans Day 2012.

Veterans Day’s falling on Sunday will complicate local celebrations that conflict with local religious services, but national celebrations most often will continue apace, particularly the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, at 11:00 a.m. (in honor of the original armistice that ended World War I, “at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month”).

Voice of America gave a brief but thorough rundown:

November 11 is Veterans Day in the U.S. – a federal holiday to honor all military personnel who have served the U.S. in all wars.

This is the first Veterans Day since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December. The holiday this year is also a chance for Americans to thank the rapidly shrinking population of World War Two veterans.

The U.S. president places a wreath every Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

Communities across America traditionally hold Veterans Day observances and ceremonies. Federal offices will be closed Monday in recognition of the holiday.

Veterans Day – originally called Armistice Day – was first observed in 1919. One year earlier, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations took effect.

Veterans Day honors all veterans of U.S. military service, living and dead.  The U.S. flag should be flown at full staff for the day.


Propaganda posters: J. C. Leyendecker’s Uncle Sam at bat (fit for August)

July 28, 2012

Get in the game with Uncle Sam, WWI poster by J. C. Leyendecker, Museum of Play image

“Get in the Game with Uncle Sam” poster from World War I, by J. C. Leyendecker in 1917 — image from National Museum of Play

No matter how much the Texas State Board of Education wishes to run away from America’s heritage, we can’t.

Nor should we want to.

Propaganda is not a bad word.  There is bad propaganda, stuff that doesn’t work.  There is propaganda for bad purposes, stuff that promotes bad policies, or evil.  But good propaganda is stronger, long-lasting, often full of great artistic merit, and instructive.

Images of Uncle Sam provide clear pictures of what Americans were thinking, from the oldest versions to today.

This poster above is a World War I poster designed to convince Americans to get involved in the war effort.  J. C. Leyendecker, a noted illustrator, cast Uncle Sam as a baseball player up to bat.  The poster says simply, “Get in the game with Uncle Sam.”  Perhaps uniquely, this poster showed Sam in yellow-striped pants, instead of the more traditional red-striped.  Could an artist take such liberty today?

Nicolas Ricketts at the Strong Museum of National Play offered a good, concise description of the politics and history of the poster at the blog for the Museum (links added for your convenience):

Meanwhile, then-president Woodrow Wilson, who had won reelection in 1916 on an anti-war platform, faced the need for American participation in the terrible “Great War” raging in Europe. He and his cabinet knew that American involvement loomed. But how could the government convince the American public that this was necessary? One idea was to create a poster that urged Americans to metaphorically “Get in the Game,” along with their patriotic national symbol, Uncle Sam.

Artist J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) designed the poster, commissioned by the Publicity Committee of the Citizens Preparedness Association, a pro-war organization with federal support which also sponsored “preparedness parades” and other nationalistic activities. Leyendecker himself emigrated from Germany at age eight and was approaching the pinnacle of his career in 1917 when he created this work.

The poster just preceded James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “I Want You” image of Uncle Sam, which later became the best-known likeness of the country’s unofficial symbol. Leyendecker’s version, in spite of his baseball bat, is possibly less affable to contemporary eyes than Flagg’s friendlier Sam. But the bat he holds connected him to many Americans, who perhaps then decided that America should “get in the game.”

Some of this older propaganda had a humorous twist I think is too often missing from modern posters.  It was more effective for that, I think.

The image of Sam at bat shows up in many places in the internet world, but most often stripped of its identifying links to Leyendecker.  That does disservice to the art, to history, and to Leyendecker, who was one of our nation’s better illustrators for a very long time.

Visit the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

More posters, almost random, found through Zemanta:

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

The most famous Uncle Sam recruiting poster, by James Montgomery Flagg (1917). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Montgomery Flagg 1917 poster: "Boys...

James Montgomery Flagg 1917 poster: “Boys and girls! You can help your Uncle Sam win the war – save your quarters, buy War Savings Stamps” / James Montgomery Flagg . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christy World War I poster to fetch more than $400 at auction

January 6, 2012

That’s a safe bet — the bid at the moment at Heritage Auctions is at $450.  How much is it worth?

Howard Chandler Christy World War I poster, 1918 - Third Liberty Loan - Heritage Auctions image

Howard Chandler Christy poster from 1918, for the Third Liberty Loan to finance World War I - Heritage Auctions image

Heritage Auctions describes the poster:

World War I Propaganda Poster by Howard Chandler Christy (Forbes, 1918). Third Liberty Loan Poster (20″ X 30″) “Fight or Buy Bonds.” War.
Howard Chandler Christy was so good at illustrating iconic beautiful women in uniquely styled poster art, that they soon became known as “Christy Girls.” He used some of these images to sell war bonds during WW I. His lovely art was instrumental in raising countless millions for the war effort. An unrestored poster with good color and an overall very presentable appearance. It may have tears, pinholes, edge wear, wrinkling, slight paper loss, and minor stains. Please see full-color, enlargeable image below for more details. Rolled, Fine+.

Posters from the wars are great teaching tools.  I tell my students to watch to see if their parents or grandparents have any of these old posters lying around.  $450 would buy books for a semester at college.

Heritage Auctions plans to sell this poster, and many others, this coming Sunday, January 8.

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