Maybe it’s because I was born at Fort Benning in Georgia while my dad was serving in the Army. Or maybe it’s because I used to love to watch classic war movies like Battleground and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo with my grandfather. Whatever the reason, I find recruitment, production and home front posters from World War I and II visually compelling and emotionally stirring. I’m slowly building a collection of originals, and I have framed some to use as thought provoking statement art in my home. So this Armed Forces Day, I’m sharing with you six of my favorites I’ve found for sale. And want to let you know you can download a 2011 “United in Strength” Armed Forces Day poster from the White House website.
This Army Day poster by soldier and artist Tom B. Woodburn is from 1939. Prior to 1949, the five U.S. military branches celebrated separate observance days (and still do within their respective services). It wasn’t until the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and Air Force were united under the Department of Defense that Armed Forces Day was established by President Harry Truman to honor the work of all military services on the third Saturday of May each year.
Czech graphic designer and artist Vojtech Preissig created recruitment posters for the United States armed forces during World War I and died in Dachau in 1944 after returning to his homeland to support the Czech resistance. Jes Wilhem Schlaikjer served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I, was a prolific illustrator for national magazines and worked as an artist for the U.S. War Department starting in 1942.
HOME FRONT POSTERS
The United States School Garden Army was created in 1917 as a government initiative to make agricultural education a primary part of school curriculum throughout the country. The hope was to avoid a food crisis during war times by encouraging the planting of locally-grown and sustainable food. Poster artist and illustrator Edward Penfield is best remembered for his work for Harper’s Monthly and The Saturday Evening Post and is regarded as the “originator of the poster in America.”