EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the December 22, 2003, issue of National Review.
The United States wasn’t at war when Irving Berlin composed a bouncy little tune called “Any Bonds Today?” But he knew war was coming, as the Nazis trampled the people of Europe:
They fell ev’ry one At the point of a gun–America mustn’t be next . . . Buy a share of freedom today.
Berlin’s song was part of a broad public effort, launched in the spring of 1941, urging Americans to buy defense bonds. Before the year was out, of course, the Treasury Department had a new name for these shares of freedom: war bonds. By 1946, Americans had bought more than $185 billion of them, well over $1 trillion in today’s dollars.
They helped win the Second World War, in that they financed American involvement and rallied the nation behind an important cause. But there hasn’t been a war-bond drive since–not in Korea, Vietnam, or the Persian Gulf. In the current war, the Bush administration could stand to come up with ways to revive the “we’re all in this together” spirit. A new war-bond drive may be just the thing.
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