Paying for a Total War: The War Bond Drives

WWII Patriotic Poster

One striking aspect of the Second World War, when viewed from a distance of three or four generations, is the universality of the conflict. The public at large seems more in touch with “American Idol” than the progress of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But during WWII it seems there was hardly a block that didn’t have at least one or two blue stars in the window (a family that had a son, or husband in the service would hand a small banner with a blue star for each service member, the blue being a prayer for a safe return, a gold star signifies the loss of a serviceman.) Everyone, it seemed, did their part for the war effort.

One aspect of this community effort to win the war was the War Bond Drives. The government needed money for the fight, and so it borrowed it from the American people.  Advertisements for the bonds ranged from subtle mentions on printed material to old time radio advertisements to large scale rallies featuring the top Hollywood film stars. In many communities there were kiosks, in areas that had significant foot traffic, staffed with pretty girls selling War Bonds.

Not only were there whole variety programs on the radio dedicated to soliciting War Bonds, but there were small dramas dedicated to the effort, such as These are Our Men. The terrific response Kate Smith’s marathon War Bond drives demonstrated not only fans loyalty to the star, but also allowed them to feel they were part of the War Effort.

Popular programming was part of the effort as well. Hardly an episode of Fibber McGee and Molly or The Great Gildersleeve passed without a War Bond appeal from the stars or the announcer, often both. Many episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly were dedicated to war bond drives or other Home Front war efforts.

Enjoy this bond selling episode from Guest Star Radio Theater starring Bob Hope & Bing Crosby from April 10, 1947:

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