The iconic picture of Uncle Sam (WWI) pointing at you to join the army can be found in almost any bin of vintage posters, usually beside Rosie the Riveter from WWII.
One night a week I teach a psychology class at a local college. I tell everyone it is my hobby that just happens to pay. Last night in discussing cultural psychology and in particular the impact of individualism on a culture we took a look at arm recruitment posters.
Uncle Sam. He is family, He is America. He is part of what makes you who you are and he needs you. Rosie (the famous poster was not the first imaging of Rosie so I have read) has the great tag line over her head, "We can do it!" There is a sense of belonging. A sense of greater purpose, of being a part of something larger than yourself.
I grew up in the 1970's and 80's. We had a different poster:
And a very different message. "YOU," not "WE." Very existential. The army will help you rather than you help it... and it is an it now..? Where as it used to be my good old Uncle Sam...?
My kids born in the late 90's and early 2000's received an even more individualistic message. Not making this up, you can check out Wikipedia which NEVER lies!
My children grew up with the following recruitment:
"ARMY OF ONE."
No lie. A century long move from collectivism to individualism. I'm not writing this as a political post to talk about this politician or that one, nor to bash this party or ridicule that one. I am writing because it seems that we have lost our sense of collective identity. Maybe that is why the current Army Slogan is simply....