“Button Up Those Blabber-Lips!”

Given the increasing cacophony of loose talk, gossip, opinion, bloviation, monologue, theory, and BS in verbal and written word that has become a constant chorus in American society, it may come as a surprise to learn that at one time the United States government undertook a major campaign to get Americans to stuff a sock in it, lock their lips and throw away the key.

From 1941-1945, the Office for Emergency Management’s Office of War Information, Domestic Operations Branch, Bureau of Special Services commissioned a series of posters to mobilize Americans to be mindful that the enemy might be listening, so clam up.

While the circumstances and rationale during World War II were dramatically different, think  how radical it would be if the government were to declare a day of national silence, for no other reason than to give us all a break from the din of crapulous white noise that has become the soundtrack to our daily lives and to instill an appreciation of, and for, the value and virtue of quietude. The enemy may be listening, and the enemy is us.

It’ll never happen. But in its stead, please join me in a few moments of silence for the dearly departed, silence:


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And now for the role of books in fighting the war:


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In fin, the War Office’s salute to International Womanhood:


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The National Archives has a trove of public domain imagery. You could do worse than to spend a few hours going through its holdings, most of which are available for digital download.


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