Uncle Sam Supports Military -- Again
By Andree Swanson
Special to American Forces Press Service
SPRINGFIELD, Va., July 28, 2000 James Montgomery Flagg's most famous painting has been called back to serve the military again in a campaign that asks America to thank its service members.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen (left) shows his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen, the Armed Services YMCA's reprint of the James Montgomery Flagg's "I Want You" painting of Uncle Sam. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Don Infante, chairman of the Armed Services YMCA, and former Chief of Naval Operations retired Adm. Wes McDonald presented the poster. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA)
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Flagg's Uncle Sam -- declaring "I Want You" -- becomes a spokesman for Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's Joint Outreach Initiative this time around. The secretary's program aims to "connect" America with its military. The Armed Services YMCA resurrected Uncle Sam to encourage people to thank military service members, said Frank Gallo, ASYMCA executive director.
ASYMCA, with graphics design assistance from Raytheon Corp., printed and distributed 200,000 posters. More than half went to National Guard and Reserve units.
"We wanted to play a part in reminding people about the tremendous sacrifices our service members make," Gallo said. "We're a part of the largest volunteer organization in America, the YMCA. It's appropriate that we pay tribute to the military -- an all-volunteer organization in its own right."
Gallo, a retired Navy rear admiral, links the poster's roots to an incident on one of his trips to an ASYMCA branch. "I was sitting near this young private in uniform and the flight attendant came up and asked him if he would like to sit in first class. The private was thrilled, and those of us who witnessed it were happy such a nice thing would be done for one of our serving military members.
"We hope this poster inspires Americans to thank their neighbor, friend, customer, who serves in the military, for their sacrifices," he added. "Those who do will make somebody's day. I guarantee it."
According to the Library of Congress, Flagg's famous image of Uncle Sam was originally published as the cover for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie's Weekly with the title "What Are You Doing for Preparedness?" The Army drafted Uncle Sam for its recruiting efforts during both World War I and II.
The Armed Services YMCA, an affiliate of the nationally recognized YMCA, serves more than 50 program locations throughout the United States.
(Andree Swanson is the ASYMCA's communications director.)