Commentary

November 4, 2016
 

Point of finger pointing moot — everyone’s doing it

Tags:
by Lisa Smith Molinari
Meat & Potatoes of Life
Courtesy graphic

Ironically, one of our smallest, weakest body parts — the finger — often wields the most power.

That one diminutive digit can instill fear, anxiety, surprise, guilt or joy. Fingers identify winners, fingers pull triggers, and fingers place blame. If I only had a dollar for every time my father pointed a calloused finger in my direction and bellowed, “You’re grounded!” I’d have enough for a decent manicure.

During the current presidential campaign season, there has been a lot of finger pointing. But, one finger has been aimed at us long before our current political candidates were in the news.

We all know the iconic image of goateed, top-hatted Uncle Sam, staring us down, sending us on the ultimate guilt trip. For more than a century, this patriotic personification of our government has been used for one specific purpose — to tell us to do something for our country.

U.S. service members know Uncle Sam all too well, because his image is inextricably bound to the draft, enlistment, patriotism and military service.

Military history geeks might be interested to know that Uncle Sam’s origins are not fully understood. The name appears in one version of the lyrics of the Revolutionary War ditty “Yankee Doodle”:

Old Uncle Sam come there to change

Some pancakes and some onions,

For ‘lasses cakes, to carry home

To give his wife and young ones.

No one is quite sure if Yankee Doodle’s pancake-slinging uncle is our own patriotically bedazzled Sam. But, during the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson, a meat-packer from Troy, New York, became forever linked with the personification. As the government-appointed meat inspector for the Northern Army, Wilson was nicknamed Uncle Sam by the troops, because his barrels of inspected meat were stamped with the initials “U.S.” Despite the tenuous connection between Wilson and the iconic character, in 1961, the U.S. Congress resolved that it “salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America’s national symbol of Uncle Sam.”

Two American editorial cartoonists helped to popularize illustrations of Uncle Sam — Thomas Nast (1840-1902), who featured a long, lean Sam with a white top hat, blue tailcoat and red-striped pants in Harper’s Bazaar; and James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), whose most famous work was the WWI poster of finger-pointing Uncle Sam proclaiming “I WANT YOU FOR U.S. ARMY.”

Flagg’s recruiting poster was printed more than four million times, and his famous portrayal of Uncle Sam has been used to call people to shovel coal, enlist, buy war bonds, work hard, not discuss troop movements, become a nurse or a stenographer, plant a victory garden, defend American freedom, and volunteer.

This month, Uncle Sam is popping up again, online and in print, telling us that it is our civic duty to vote. Many of you stationed overseas sent in your absentee ballots weeks ago, and others are gearing up for Nov. 8.

This campaign season has been so epic; many are commemorating the event by throwing election-themed parties. Pinterest offers inspiration, from Donkey and Elephant Jell-o Shots to Election Selfie Props to Uncle Sam “I WANT YOU TO COME TO A PARTY!” invitations. Rachel Ray’s online magazine has a recipe for “Campaign Trail Mix” and advises party planners to use a curtain to create a voting booth around the bar, inviting guests to go in and “booze up liberally or conservatively.” And, at www.urbanblisslife.com, one can download a printable Election Day map for the kids to color with blue and red crayons as the results are declared.

With the extreme negativity of this presidential campaign, it’s no wonder we all want to have a little fun. But, we mustn’t forget about that famous finger. Not the foam one at the football game, or the angry one flipped by the driver in the passing Prius, or the one your husband tells you to pull with a devilish grin, or the tiny one your toddler uses to explore her nostrils.

You know the one. So, let’s all heed old Uncle Sam’s advice, do our civic duty and vote on Nov. 8.

Courtesy of www.themeatandpotatoesoflife.com




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Airman Frankie D. Moore

355th MDOS hosts first annual Suicide Prevention Week

Air Force photograph by Airman Frankie D. Moore Capt. Teresa Thompson, 355th Medical Operations Squadron Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager, talks to an individual about mental awareness during the ...
 
 

Boeing, Cathay Pacific to donate world’s 1st 777 to Aviation Museum

Boeing and Cathay Pacific announced today that they are donating the first-ever Boeing 777 airplane to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona, one of the world’s largest facilities devoted to celebrating aerospace. The iconic airplane (line number WA001 and registered B-HNL) flew from Cathay Pacific’s home airport in Hong Kong to Tucson, Arizona...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. George Keck

Arizona Air National Guard’s first deployment in 31 years

Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. George Keck Staff Sgt. Luke Arandules, a 195th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, Arizona Air National Guard, performs a final inspection for debris around the intake of an F-16 Fi...