Ready For War? How The Service Was Sold to Americans During WWI and II

 Wed. June 15

Last call! Have you ever fallen for military propaganda about how you would just be so happy to sign up and serve? The Army of One campaign? The "Be all you can be" campaign? The "few, the proud" Marines campaign? All those TV adverts that make the action non-combative and skill building and rather like a giant real-life chessboard? I grew War Posterup during the Vietnam War era, listening to Country Joe MacDonald sing the "Fish Cheer," and CSN&Y do "Ohio," and the Doors do "Unknown Soldier" and Eric Burdon and the Animals do "War." This helped solidify my thoughts about that war, the only one I really might have been eligible for. (The draft ended the year I could have been called.) So, joining up and maybe taking one for the team was not going to happen in my world. But I've always been fascinating by the selling points of service: Bravery, camaraderie, career … the opportunity to go to far and distant lands, meet foreign people and kill them. (Wait, that last one was from an ad parody.)
   At any rate, in the pre-TV era there were recruitment posters, lots of them. The International Poster Gallery is mounting an exhibit, "Paper Wars”, an evocative exhibition of original propaganda posters of the First and Second World Wars.  It's up April 28 – June 15. (WWI was called the Great War before WWII 'cause who would have thought we'd have another and they'd need numerals? Those friggin' Germans.) The exhibition, which is free, features some of the most persuasive and galvanizing posters from two of the most significant military conflicts in world history.

  World War I was the first conflict in which the illustrated color lithographic poster was used as a means of propaganda. 

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