Seventy years ago today, on 13 March 1943, Freedom from Fear, the fourth in Norman Rockwell’s series, The Four Freedoms appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell chose as his subject American parents tucking their children in for bed while thinking of the nightly bombings suffered by British civilians (as illustrated by the newspaper headline in which “Bombings” and “Horror” appear).
Rockwell spent seven months working on the series and lost fifteen pounds from his rail-thin frame in the duration. The Four Freedoms paintings were part of Rockwell’s personal collection, which he bequeathed as the Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
On this day 70 years ago, Georgia-born big band leader and Columbia Records recording artist Harry James achieved the rare feat of occupying not only Billboard’s #1 slot, but the #2 chart position as well. At #1 in March 1943 sat ‘I’ve Heard That Song Before,’ featuring the superior tone of James’ trademark trumpet and the vocals of Helen Forrest, while, bubbling under just beneath it, was ‘I Had The Craziest Dream Last Night,’ the theme from the 1942 musical comedy ‘Springtime In The Rockies,’ which not only featured James as a part of the regular cast, but also starred James’ future wife, Betty Grable.
While ‘I Had The Craziest Dream’ would undergo a rapid descent out of the Top Ten, ‘I’ve Heard That Song Before’ would remain atop the Billboard charts all the way through the middle of May before finally being ousted by Glenn Miller’s ‘That Old Black Magic.’
Click below to hear the original hit recordings of Harry James ‘I’ve Heard That Song Before’ and ‘I Had The Craziest Dream Last Night.’
This post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum
Seventy years ago today, on 6 March 1943, Norman Rockwell’s painting Freedom from Want appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. The third in his series on The Four Freedoms featured a family sitting down to a plentiful Thanksgiving meal. It would become one of Rockwell’s most popular images.
Rockwell’s Freedom from Want as seen in the Museum’s exhibition presented from September-November 2011, Roosevelt, Rockwell and the Four Freedoms: America’s Slow March from Isolation to Action.
Seventy years ago today, on 27 February 1943, the Saturday Evening Post featured Freedom of Worship, the second in their installment of the Norman Rockwell-illustated series, The Four Freedoms.
Gift of Dr. Frank B. Arian, 2009.451.434
Rockwell’s painting was accompanied by an essay by writer Will Durant in which he stated:
When we yield our sons to war, it is in the trust that their sacrifice will bring to us and our allies no inch of alien soil, no selfish monopoly of the world’s resources of trade, but only the privilege of winning for all peoples the most precious gifts in the orbit of life–freedom of body and soul, of movement and enterprise, of thought and utterance, of faith and worship, of hope and charity, of a humane fellowship with all men.
Rockwell at work on "Freedom of Speech. " Courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA.
Seventy years ago today, on 20 February 1943, the Saturday Evening Post featured the first illustration in Norman Rockwell’s series, The Four Freedoms. The series depicted the principles annunciated in Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These would become symbols to many Americans of what we were fighting for in World War II. After their publication in the Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell’s paintings travelled the country as part of the Four Freedoms Bond Tour which raised over $130,000,000 in bonds. Rockwell considered The Freedom of Speech to be the best in the series.
On this day 70 years ago, the new headquarters of the United States Department of Defense was dedicated. Costing over 83 million dollars, covering over 6 million square-feet and completed in less than 17 months, construction on the iconic five-sided structure known as the Pentagon began in September 1941 on the former site of the obsolete Washington-Hoover Airport. The Pentagon was conceived by Secretary of War Henry Stimson as an ‘overall solution’ to the inadequate facilities available for an American military then in the midst of a rapid expansion.
Designed by architect George Bergstrom and built by general contractor John McShain (the primary contractor behind such other landmarks as the Jefferson Memorial, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Ronald Reagan Washington-National Airport), the Pentagon owes its unmistakable shape to a site originally considered then later rejected for construction (a roughly five-sided temporary housing complex known as Arlington Farms) and its relatively low vertical height to the American war-effort’s increasing demands for steel and other heavy weight-bearing metals.
In order to manage the pressing needs of the war, many DoD officials began working in the Pentagon before the building even neared completion. Built a one wing at a time, employees moved into the first completed wings as construction continued on the remaining ‘spokes.’ In keeping with this spirit of expediency and the lack of formality at the 1941 groundbreaking, there was no formal dedication ceremony when construction on the Pentagon ended on January 15, 1943: 70 years ago today.
This post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator @ the National WWII Museum
Kai-shek, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Madame Chiang seated at the Cairo Conference in November 1943. Courtesy of the National Archives.
Today in 1943, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Generalissino Kai-shek convened in Cairo, Egypt to reevaluate Allied tactics on fighting and defeating Japan, and the subsequent actions that would be taken once the Pacific War had been won. The Cairo Communique, as it became known, was released to the public on 1 December 1943 and outlined goals for post-war Japan.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.