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From WWII: Kilroy is still here

As Veterans are honored this month, a fun memory and tradition from World War II is remembered. It's a classic bit of graffiti: An oval face with a long tubular nose peeping over a wall with the iconic words: Kilroy was here.

Soldiers in World War II found that cartoon everywhere (and drew it everywhere) at military bases on ships and even on battlefields. It was a touch of rebellion, but it became a source of humor and comfort. Kilroy was everywhere and he was first to be everywhere, even on the most remote battlegrounds.

The question of who started Kilroy has spawned many legends. The one generally accepted is that an American shipyard inspector, James J. Kilroy, drew the cartoon on ships as a way to show that he had inspected rivets. This may have made the legend grow because Kilroy put the cartoon inside hull spaces that were subsequently sealed and when others found the cartoon later, it seemed almost magical.

At some point, Kilroy may well have merged with a comical British doodle known as Chad, a well-known complainer. Chad, a bald-headed figure, always had a grievance, the most famous of which was about rationing: Wot, no sugar? But there were political variations: Wot, no Tories? Scientific complaints as well: Wot, no electrons? And frustrated versions: Wot, no women?

In fact, the combination of cartoon and caption were present among troops from many different nations, including the Russians and Polish.

Still, the mark became such a symbol of the war that you can still see it today, memorialized in Washington D.C. at the World War II memorial. If you ever visit, you'll find it etched near the ground near the Pennsylvania and Delaware pillars.

This story was posted on 2023-11-18 22:14:28
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