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During World War II the United States government as well as many other governments around the world commissioned and produced propaganda to encourage citizen support for the war effort. “War Gardens For Victory: Grow Vitamins At Your Kitchen Door” is an example of such a piece. This poster features an American woman holding a hoe and a large basket of vegetables with the aforementioned text above, behind, and below her. This text is large and bold; it is easy to read from a distance and is the first thing the viewer’s eyes are drawn to. The image looks fairly easy to reproduce although it does have detailed vegetables, clothing, and facial features. The poster follows the style of many United States pieces of propaganda. Much like the “I Want You for the U.S. Army” and other war time posters, “War Gardens For Victory: Grow Vitamins At Your Kitchen Door” calls for action on the part of the American citizen. The propaganda implies that the war is a countrywide effort that everyone must participate in in order for it to be a success. If every citizen does not put forth an effort to support their country then they are at fault for any loss.
The text as well as the women’s outfit are red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. They evoke a feeling of patriotism in the viewer, a common propaganda tactic used to convince the average citizens support the war because of their love of their country. This particular poster is encouraging people to grow gardens at home so that more food could be sent to the troops. Also food grown in a home garden did not need to be transported thus saving gasoline and trucks for the military. The woman in the poster is attractive and dressed in work overalls and a garrison hat (a military cap). She is ready to plant a victory garden to support the troops away at war. The lady stands erect and looks ready to fight making it seem like planting a victory garden is like going to war, a real contribution the the effort. She holds the hoe like a gun at her side. Her stance is unmistakably determined and strong. The basket she is holding is also overflowing with healthy looking vegetables showing that the gardens get real tangible results. Also the text the artist is implying that people do not need to move further than just right outside their kitchen door to support the friends, family, and neighbors they know off at war. It works to almost guilt the viewer into feeling bad that they are not doing more to support the war effort when it is so simple. In addition, the word vitamin is strategic. The citizen is not just growing vegetables, but rather nutritious sustenance to make the United States unconquerable to any opponent.
This poster does exactly what the government and military intended it to: it calls the common citizen to action. The women in the poster is standing with her country by taking initiative and planting a garden and it is effective because its message is so clear. Any woman can see themselves as the woman standing in the graphic; they think of their husbands, brothers, sons, and friends at war and feel the drive to spring to action. Their families at home should not be taking food out of the mouths of valiant soldiers in Europe. Rations were harsh during World War II and the thought of being able to supplement the household diet with vitamin rich vegetables would be tempting to any mother or wife. The propaganda poster arouses only positive thoughts so anyone viewing it thinks “why not plant a war garden?” The emotions brought forth by this piece like patriotism give Americans hope because rather than making the the war daunting, it is portrayed as winnable. The idea that if all contribute to the effort the troops will find success is desirable to latch on to. This example of propaganda is effective as well as comprehensible to the average person with underlying nuances that add to its message.
J. H. Burdett, director, National Garden Bureau, “War Gardens For Victory: Grow Vitamins At Your Kitchen Door,” Time of the Garden, accessed September 9, 2015,http://victoryofthegarden.omeka.net/items/show/11.
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