Uncle Sam wants YOU!

J.M. Flagg, Army recruiting poster, 1917. lithograph.

In honor of Veteran’s Day I thought it would be appropriate to explore the origins of one of America’s most iconic images/personas. Just who is “Uncle Sam?” Legend goes that during the War of 1812, a meat packer by the name of Sam Wilson stamped his parcels with E.A. (the meat packing company) followed by “U.S.” which clearly stood for “United States.” But his coworkers coined the nickname “Uncle Sam” and it stuck. Meat delivered to the troops was therefore said to be provided by good old “Uncle Sam.” Flagg, commissioned during WWI to create a series of recruitment lithographs used the popular mythic Father (rather Uncle) of the nation to call young Americans to arms. Instead of spending money on a model, he used his own face – thus birthing the rosy-cheeked, goatee’d caricature. This image has run the gauntlet of pride and fear (especially during Draft eras) – yet it is a reminder of those who have selflessly served so that we can still live in a country where freedom of expression still exists! It wouldn’t be Veteran’s Day if I didn’t take one moment to honor my two late Grandfather’s Dan E. Hall and James R. Cron for their courage and dedication to their country and their families! (Original post to Instagram November 12, 2012.)


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