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Tag: World War II

Unbreakable: Remembering the Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers Henry Bake and George Kirk, 12/1943 (ARC 593415)

Keith Hill passed away yesterday at the age of 87. He was  president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and Congressional Silver Medal recipient. At 17, he joined the Navajo Code Talkers, a group of men who used their Native American language to communicate and coordinate the movements of Marines in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Hill started with the U .S. Marine Corps in December of 1943, and he fought at the Marshall Islands, Sai Pan, and Iwo Jima. Over 400 over Navajo Code Talkers also served.

Encryption could be a complicated and time-consuming task. A quicker and more secure means was needed.

Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary, had presented the idea of Navajo speakers to the Marines. He was a World War I vet who knew that the military was looking for a quick and secure way to send messages. Using speakers of a language that few outsiders ever heard—and that fewer than 30 outsiders spoke—seemed like a plausible solution.

Why Navajos? There were very, very few speakers of the Navajo language outside the tribe, with exception of a limited number of scholars and missionaries (Johnston estimated 28 people), so it was unlikely anyone else would recognize the langauge and be able to translate it. Even among other Indian tribals, the language was considered different.… [ Read all ]

Patriotic posters and the debt ceiling

World War I Liberty Loan poster, ARC 512633

As the calendar turns to August and the summer heat sets in, no topic is hotter than the debt ceiling.

Congress has voted to increase the debt limit more than 100 times since it was first established. How did this get started? Part of the answer is in these nearly century-old posters.

To raise money for the costs of World War I, the Federal Government began issuing war bonds. When the first round was not as successful as hoped, artists were commissioned to make more compelling posters, and famous actors encouraged citizens to buy them. Purchasing war bonds came to be seen as a patriotic duty, and several more sets were issued during the war.

With the passage of the Second Liberty Bond Act in 1917, the Department of the Treasury began issuing long-term bonds in order to minimize the government’s interest costs. As a means of managing these new obligations, the legislation enacted a statutory limit on federal debt.

Liberty Loan poster, ARC 512718

Legislation passed over the next two decades created similar limits for other types of government-issued debt, including the bills and the notes issued by the Treasury.

By 1939, Congress eliminated these separate limits and established one aggregate debt limit. The nation’s cumulative debt at the time was $40.4 billion, approximately 10% below the … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Make a date with Uncle Sam

A Wolrd War II recruitment post (ARC 513664)

Perhaps the most famous goatee in all of America belongs to Uncle Sam, the white-haired patriot who appeared in political cartoons in the late 1890s, on recruitment posters in both World Wars, and continues to appear on all kinds of products today.

And while facial hair fashions have changed drastically through the years since the Civil War, Uncle Sam’s long white goatee remains the same over the decades. Even in World War II, when clean-shaven faces were all the rage for GIs, this young woman was not deterred from a date with Uncle Sam and his flowing chin hair.

Whether you sport a chip-strap beard, a curly mustache, or a goatee, have a wonderful Fourth of July! If you are in Washington, DC, join us for a celebration on the steps of the National Archives Building to hear the Declaration of Independence read by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Ned Hector. Then come inside and see the original!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam!… [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Caption Contest

Your caption here!

"Having learned lessons on motivation from the British Royal Navy, the U.S. Department of Education experimented with dispensing rum rations to bolster test scores."

Congratulations to Dave M! Our guest judge Lynn Bassanese of the Roosevelt Presidential Library chose your caption, as FDR “was a real Navy man and enjoyed an occasional cocktail so we think he would approve of our choice.”

It’s unlikely President Roosevelt would have enjoyed the wartime cocktail being ladled out, though. The original caption declares: “Saturday’s a holiday for most of the nation’s small fry, but to these youngsters of Roanoke, Va., it’s fat-collection day” (NLR-PHOCO-A-65701 [31]).

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, some of our readers may have plans for a green beer tonight. This week’s caption is about drinking, too—use your gift o’gab and give us your best caption!

541905-cat

Your caption here, my laddie!

[ Read all ]

The few, the proud, the letter-writers to the Marines

In 1943, you wrote a letter to President Roosevelt. In 2011, the National Archives  featured your letter on YouTube! How would you feel?

L. J. Weil feels pretty good, actually. “Wonderful!  It’s great to be honored this way,” he said when National Archives staff reached him at his home in Lousiana.

Weil’s letter to the President Roosevelt was sent in 1943, and 67 years later it was chosen to be featured as the demonstration model for the National Archives  new search engine.

What prompted Weil write to President Roosevelt? Weil was 10 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, an event he still clearly remembers. Two years later, it was 1943, and the United States was in midst of fighting World War II. Weil wanted to help.

He wrote to President Roosevelt, offering his services as a mascot. “I’m twelve years old and a little young to get into anything right now, but when I am a little older, well just you wait and see,” Weil wrote.

Weil did receive a reply but only received what he called a “brush off” from a Marine officer, who noted that there was no law about appointing official mascots. “The patriotic motive which prompted your office of service is appreciated, however, and hope that when you reach the required age of enlistment in the Marine Corps you will avail your self of the opportunity … [ Read all ]