by Clyde Annala
The origin of Uncle Sam is uncertain, but the persona has been around since the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” of today was created by magazine illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, first appearing in public July 6, 1916. Over 4,000,000 copies of his iconic “I Want You” poster with a bearded, finger pointing, Uncle Sam were produced during World War One.
This image was extremely popular with the public and Americans started calling their soldiers ‘sammies’, or ‘Sammy’, a nephew of Uncle Sam. The name caught on. In July of 1917 General Pershing, commander of the American forces, reported French civilians calling his soldiers ‘sammies’.
In the Twin Ports, a daily paper, the Duluth News Tribune, started a campaign called Sammie Backers, urging older men to “adopt” a soldier to support with mail and small gifts. It seemed America’s troops were destined to be known as ‘sammies’ until word got out through letters and chinwag that the troops hated it.
“Don’t call me ‘sammy’”, they wrote. Nor did they want to be called yanks, especially the southern soldiers, despite public popularity of the name as celebrated in the song Over There with its patriotic proclamation that the yanks are coming. What the soldiers fancied was “doughboy.” That moniker seems to have been started by a populace movement among their ranks.
Doughboy is another obscure name, probably originating during the Mexican War when American infantry ended a day’s march covered in white road dust. There is a lot of speculation on the origin of doughboy and its connection with the American military, but no one knows for sure. Perhaps British and French troops got the last word, claiming the Americans are called doughboys because they were needed in 1914 but didn’t rise until 1917.
Well, rise they did. Some 4,800,000 of them. They won the war, and Americans welcomed their doughboys home, sammy all but forgotten. The doughboy of World War One left a legacy that proudly stands alongside the “GI” of World War Two and Korea, “grunts” of Vietnam, and modern day “joe” fighting the war on terrorism.
The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center announces that Hayes Scriven has joined the Center as its new Executive Director. Scriven, a native of Nerstrand, Minnesota, started at the Center on March 6, replacing Robert Furhrman who had been at the reins for the last 10 years.
Scriven, a 2005 University of Minnesota Duluth graduate, spent his senior year at the center as an intern. He assisted in the development of the “Holidays on the Homefront” exhibit. After graduating, he spent the next 11 years at the Northfield Historical Society where he served as Executive Director.
“In the process of doing our due diligence on the hiring of a new Executive Director we reached out to a few local museum professionals in the area,” said Bong Center Chairman Terry Lundeberg. “Hayes name continued to pop up in conversations so we knew we wanted to bring him in for an interview.”
“During the interview process we knew immediately that Hayes was the individual we wanted and couldn’t wait to get him to Northland,” said Board Member Ryan Kern. “There is something to be said about the Bong Center when you can go out and recruit your ideal candidate and they see your vision and want to be a part of it.”
“I am extremely excited to be back in the Twin Ports area,” Scriven stated. “My wife and I have always said, if there was an opportunity to get back to Northland we would seriously considered it. We love it up here!” Scriven credits his time at the center as an intern for where is love of local history comes from. “When I was interning here I fell in love with the personal stories I was researching. I felt a connection and a better understanding for the area. I knew after that internship that I wanted to work in a small museum, to preserve and document local history.”
Under Scriven’s leadership, the Northfield Historical Society had been awarded nearly $450,000 through the Minnesota Historical Society’s Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant (“Legacy”) program. These grants facilitated the construction of an elevator and six ADA-compliant restrooms, and the installation of compact archival shelving — all at the society’s downtown Northfield Scriver Building. The grants also have allowed the Society to hire professional staff in order to complete several curatorial projects.
“I am very honored to be coming back to such a great organization. The Bong Center is a very important part of the Northland and I am very eager to help preserve and document the local military history.” “We have an amazing staff and board here and we are going to do great things!”
The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to preserve and honor the memory of Major Bong and all veterans of World War II, as well as subsequent conflicts and to provide educational resources for the Twin Ports area community and beyond.