From the desk of the Mayor…
I have had this one particular poster hanging prominently in my house for quite a few years now. It is an original “war bonds” poster, printed in 1943, featuring artwork by Norman Rockwell with the words “Save Freedom of Speech” across the top. This poster was one in a series of “The Four Freedoms” by Rockwell which were inspired by President Roosevelt’s State of the Union address in 1941. Rockwell transformed the words of the President: “Freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom to worship, and freedom of speech”, into works of art that were printed in the Saturday Post, and then used by the US Treasury to help sell over $130 million in war bonds, and more importantly, rally the Americans behind their troops and their country.
This poster means a lot to me. Not only is it a reminder of what our country has been through and the lengths at which we depend upon one another to make this “great experiment” work, but it’s also a reminder of what we stand for.
This poster depicts a man at his local town meeting – if you can read it, the papers are titled “Annual Report” for a town in Vermont. More importantly, it depicts him speaking up for something he’s concerned or passionate about that’s presumably mentioned in his town’s annual report. Today, this image seems simple, but to me, it’s tremendously powerful.
When our nation was formed, not everyone had the power that this man has in the poster. Not everyone could show up to a meeting of local town leaders, and speak up for, or especially against, something facing their community. Not everyone had the right to see their town’s “annual report”. Not everyone was free to speak their minds, especially about how they were governed.
America is a wonderful country because of freedoms like our freedom of speech. We are blessed to live in a system of government that not only laid out these “self-evident truths” from the very beginning, but also we are blessed to live in a country that has been able to mold itself over time to ensure that our “four freedoms”, like freedom of speech, continue to apply to everyone.
I love living in this country. I love my constant pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. I love that everyone has that ability. And I love that each of us can fight for that pursuit like the man in this poster is doing.
Mayor GP McLeer■