Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kilroy Was Here

Last week, I shared this picture with you of Alvin Fernald, painting hills in his room. He is working with a WWII theme. These hills are possibly in France, England, or one of the Japanese-held islands in the South Pacific. The time is 1943 or 1944:
Here they are, green and lush. There is no need to worry for Alvin's safety, because wherever the enemy is,
Kilroy has been there first!
If you are old enough, you learned about Kilroy in school:
If not, I'll be glad to share with you. Grab your "cuppa," and get comfy. Here is your History lesson for today:
Find the full story here.
This excerpt is from that website:
"The Legends of "Kilroy Was Here"

There was one person who led or participated in every combat, training or occupation operation during WWII and the Korean War. This person could always be depended on. GI's began to consider him the "super GI." He was one who always got there first or who was always there when they left. I am, of course, referring to Kilroy Was Here. Somehow, this simple graffiti captured the imagination of GI's everywhere they went. The scribbled cartoon face and words showed up everywhere - worldwide. Stories (some even true) abound.

Legend #1: This Legend of how "Kilroy was here" starts is with James J. Kilroy, a shipyard inspector during WWII. He chalked the words on bulkheads to show that he had been there and inspected the riveting in the newly constructed ship. To the troops in those ships, however, it was a complete mystery — all they knew for sure was that he had "been there first." As a joke, they began placing the graffiti wherever they (the US forces) landed or went, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

Kilroy became the US super-GI who always got there first — wherever GI's went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places. It was said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arch de Triumphe, and scrawled in the dust on the moon. An outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Truman, Stalin, and Churchill who were there for the Potsdam conference. The first person to use it was Stalin. He emerged and asked his aide (in Russian), "Who is Kilroy?" "


Here is another website that adds this detail:

"Near the end of WWII, Adolf Hitler was paranoid as sin about one particular insurgent that seemed to get into everything secure in Nazi germany, he had his best men actively searching for this spy, and had ordered all his troops to shoot the menace. The "spy" Hitler was looking for was none other than kilroy. GI's in occupied territory and spies in the german army were vandalizing nazi bases and equipment with the little kilroy drawing, along with the words, "Killroy was here..." It wasn't meant as anything more than a prank, but by the last year of hitler's command, there was so much graffitti that he thought kilroy was able to get into any secure area, and feared for his life, thinking, "Kilroy is going to get me!" It's nice to think that a little bit of vandalism helped end World War II."

Our enemies have always complained about "Yankee ingenuity." My personal belief is that what we call "Yankee ingenuity" is a byproduct of freedom, the freedom given to us by God. Creativity thrives in freedom. Who had the idea to use Navajos as code-talkers to confuse the Nazis? So many, many examples could be given. The G.I.'s were heroes all over the world.

Alvin's grandfather (my Daddy) is a WWII vet. We will be putting his pilot picture on the wall, as well as a photo of my great-uncle in his WWI uniform, standing near some kind of torpedo-shaped weapon (sorry, my WWI knowledge is a tad thin). It will be fun to see Alvin add his own soldiers. He likes to put his full-sized G.I. Joes on the tops of the window woodwork. He also has about forty-eleven thousand of the little soldiers. Don't know what he will do with them....

This story is not over. A new generation of "Yankee ingenuity" has yet to "show their stuff."

God bless America!

3 comments :

April 1930s said...

Oh, I just love this! What a neat, neat idea for a room. So unique and clever - absolutely perfect!!!

G.L.H. said...

Mrs. April,
Thank you for your comments!
I notice you say the word "neat!" It is my default word, and my family is always making fun of me, because the word "neat" belongs to the '50's. You are right "in the groove," doll!

April 1930s said...

I am my mother's child. (she was born in the 50s). That's so neat that we like "neat".