The war effort in the United States was fueled by government agencies and their propaganda. Propaganda posters contained certain themes, graphics, and symbols used to stir the emotions of the American people to support both the war overseas, and the war effort at home.



"REMEMBER DEC. 7th"
CHRIS BRIAN and KATE WILLIAMSON
GROUP II, TEAM 9

Research/Analysis
Remember Dec. 7th displays the image of a tattered American flag waving in the wind. The flag … is hanging from a crooked pole at half-mast against a background mostly consisting of dark plumes of smoke and the glow of fire. There are several tears in the flag, but [the] most noticeable is a large hole in the middle of the flag, [through which can be seen] both the smoke and the blue skies and clouds together. With the [anguish and grief] of Americans linked to the events of December 7, 1941, the poster is an attempt to promote nationalism and boost support of the war effort...

The first piece of text on the poster [produced in 1942] reads “…we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…,” written in lower case, italicized white text. The second piece of text, “Remember Dec. 7th!”, is written in large, bold, capitalized, italicized red text.

Artist/Artistic Method
The poster appears to have been screen printed; there are thousands of tiny dots, which make up the colors of the images. These dots look similar to pointillism [an artistic method]; the colors are comprised of these dots. The background of Allen Saalburg, the artist who produced the image for this poster, and his role with governmental agencies, has a large impact on the symbols, imagery, and text used in the poster. Between 1935 and the early 1940s, Saalburg painted murals in New York City for the Federal Artists’ Project of the Works Project Administration. He painted, and oversaw the painting of, murals in areas such as Central Park. He then was commissioned by the Office of War Information, once World War II had begun.

Evocative Meanings/Interpretation
The poster includes an excerpt from Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech: “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” This particular aspect of the poster is important because it adds an aesthetic connection with the audience, attach[ing] the strong symbolic image with the present time period, and evok[ing] certain emotions. Another section of text in the poster is a strong statement at the bottom of the image stating, “REMEMBER DEC. 7th!” . . . While the excerpt from the Day of Infamy speech hint[s] at ideas of revenge and remembrance of Pearl Harbor, this quote screams it.

. . . One of the main images in the poster is a tattered American flag. The fact that the flag had been tattered implies that that unity and freedom have been [temporarily] impeded, but because the flag is still flying and holds its form, our nation is still proud and capable of great things.

The strong presence of fire and smoke in the poster and the damage … apparently done to the American flag, stand as powerful and inspirational symbols for the calamity of Pearl Harbor, demanding that American citizens pay attention and take action against the enemy. This particular aspect of the poster is beneficial to the war effort in that it conveyed certain ideas to its audience, it connects the art to specific needs of that time, and it stirred the public into action.

Contemporary Commentary
Remember Dec. 7th is a propaganda poster intended to promote a sense of nationalism and [drive] U.S. involvement in the Second World War, using the events of Pearl Harbor to evoke strong emotions in the American people. Even today, this poster and the themes it portrays, can resonate within the hearts and minds of American citizens. A strong link can be made between the events of, and following, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and those of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Both of these events brought forth extreme nationalism and support for the country and the government. Even today, the government encourages its citizens to “remember September 11th,” to mourn those who lost their lives during the attacks, but also raise support for the troops who were sent to war in Iraq. Through the use of strategic propaganda, the government greatly impacted the … way the public sees and responds to war.

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