Uncle Sam Day

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On the “odd holidays and observances” list, I found an interesting one for September 13th: Uncle Sam Day. Who knew?

It’s official, so designated by Congress in 1989 (you’d think they wouldn’t have time for this sort of thing…..).

This actually got me wondering about the origins of the whiskered fellow in the blue coat and tall hat whom we recognize as Uncle Sam. Apparently, he first appeared on the scene in the early 1800s. There are a few versions of how our collective Uncle came to be, but the one which seems to hold the most weight is tied to the War of 1812. Soldiers received meat rations in barrels stamped U.S. and supplied by Samuel Wilson out of Troy, New York – whom the enlisted men nicknamed “Uncle Sam.”

By 1813, the first image of America’s Uncle appeared – though he represented the United States along with a character known as Brother Jonathan well into the middle part of the 19th century. After that, Uncle Sam assumed the role on his own, and of course is now recognized worldwide.

In the early 1960s, Congress issued a resolution (they obviously excel when it comes to issuing resolutions) recognizing Samuel Wilson as “Uncle Sam” – and even authorized a monument in Troy to honor him.

Most of us are familiar with the Army recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam, created by artist James Flagg in 1917. It was used during both World Wars.

This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division

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