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If you tell where he's going... he may never get there!

Date: 1943
Overall: 711 x 509 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Poster
Object No: 00017803
Place Manufactured:United States

User Terms

    This is one of a large number of posters promoting secrecy and silence in World War II. A healthy sailor carrying a kit on his shoulder is about to ship off to war, while a bright red text box warns Americans to be silent about his destination. National security was a major issue and Americans were encouraged not to reveal any information on military matters.
    SignificanceThis popular poster was distributed widely in America. It is a typical image of the healthy sailor going to war and helped remind many Americans to keep quiet.
    HistoryConcerns about national security intensify during times of war. With German and Japanese submarines patrolling off US coasts, great emphasis was placed on educating military personnel and civilians about the need for secrecy concerning military matters, especially troop movements. Central to maintaining national security was the drive to limit talk about the war in both the public and private arenas of American life. Silence meant security.

    A World War II specialty was the poster to stop careless talk. Some posters exhibit notable graphic images of death, tragedy and loss. Others show vibrant, happy and healthy men heading off to war and warn it is up to those on the home front to keep them safe.

    Because of rapid electronic communication, the American government was especially sensitive to espionage activities that could endanger troop and material transport, and the secret development of new weapons.

    Whether the practical results of the careless words campaign were equal to the magnitude of the poster effort is an unanswered question. However, secrecy was a priority of the government at this time and the number of posters related to it indicate this.

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