Mount (Verified): 77.6 x 57.8cm (30 9/16 x 22 3/4")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
This poster, designed by an Office of War Information art director, David Stone Martin, was one of several inspirational posters aimed at the black community. At the outbreak of World War II, the armed services practiced rigid discrimination against African Americans that included a stubborn reluctance to acknowledge black capabilities. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, navy messman Dorie Miller was serving on the USS West Virginia. Before abandoning ship, he braved enemy fire to carry a wounded officer to safety and, although not trained for combat, manned an antiaircraft gun, possibly downing at least one enemy plane. He eventually received a Navy Cross, but only after intense pressure by the black press. The poster's heroic overtones and quote gain extra poignancy in hindsight: Miller, later a messman on the USS Liscombe Bay, was killed when the aircraft carrier sank in the Pacific in November 1943.