Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A meme done old-school style

posted by The Vidiot @ 3:49 PM Permalink

Engraving of Kilroy on the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Credit: nps.gov

I used to draw the Kilroy character all the time when I was a kid. I thought it was cool for some reason. I knew it had to do with World War II, but I didn't really know what or why.

Well, now I do.

At one of the country's most prolific shipyards in Quincy worked James J. Kilroy — a rivet inspector who, like everyone in his trade, was paid by the number of rivets he checked and recorded his day's work on the machinery itself with a chalk mark. To avoid having his marks erased and moved by unscrupulous workers continuing his line of rivets, Kilroy began inscribing "Kilroy Was Here" on the machinery, historians say.

The dire need for ships overseas meant that most were launched into action before the workers' marks, including Kilroy's, were painted over or covered up.

American GIs began noticing the puzzling phrase scrawled on outgoing ships almost immediately, often tucked into hard-to-reach spots. At first, sailors treated an appearance of "Kilroy Was Here" like a kind of talisman, certifying that their ship had been properly checked and would be protected against the enemy. GIs later adopted Kilroy's standard and began tagging the places they'd visited across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Just a little diversion for you during these crazy economic times.

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At 10:31 PM, Blogger JayV said...

I had no idea about Kilroy. Always wondered, too. Thanks.


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