On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his “Four Freedoms” speech. He declared that no American should ever be deprived of four basic freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. In 1943 Norman Rockwell of Arlington, Vermont illustrated these ideas in paintings. First published in the Saturday Evening Post and then as posters, the images became famous symbols of these American ideals. The government printed and distributed millions of the posters throughout the country to bolster Americans’ morale during the war years.
Wartime messages pervaded every aspect of American life—in schools, churches, stores, businesses, factories, post offices, train and bus stations, and theaters. At home readers found stories or advertisements about the war and the home front on almost every magazine and newspaper page. Radio, the primary communications tool of the era, broadcast news as well as popular songs and programs about the war effort.
Many materials contained straightforward explanations of how and why specific wartime policies and programs were needed. Just as many, though, played on the emotions of love, pride, patriotism, fear, hatred, racism, and revenge. By today’s standards these messages may seem naive, scary, or prejudiced, but they helped keep people focused on winning the war.
Copyright 2006, Vermont Historical
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