Uncle Sam Sells
Uncle Sam -- darling of US Army recruitment posters and oft-charicatured symbol of government in political cartoons -- can be visited on your next vacation. On a poster at the US Army Chemical Corps Museum, he wears a gas mask, while next to him a zombie-faced Kaiser crashes to the ground. At the Magic Forest in Lake George, New York, the claimed World's Tallest Uncle Sam,at 36 ft., looms in front of the "Home of Rex the Diving Horse." This classic Sam's pre-eminence might be disputed by the town of Ottawa Lake, Michigan, which boasts of its 42-foot tall Uncle Sam.
Some Uncle Sams are employed in the straightforward recruitment of consumer confidence, standing tall over auto dealerships and shopping centers. The Uncle Sam in Virginia, Minnesota, is in the High Trail Motors parking lot below the road banking on US 53 south of town, so it loses some impact.
In contrast to the identical appearance of mass produced cowboys, Indians and Muffler Men, the Uncle Sam's we've seen are varied, one-of-a-kind (or last of a limited local chain).
Many people don't know that Uncle Sam was an actual guy. His real name was Samuel Wilson, born in Arlington, Massachusetts, on September 13, 1766, but spent most of his life in Troy, NY. He was a meatpacker during the War of 1812 and the supposed inspiration for the Uncle Sam character. He died in 1854.
Troy calls itself the "Home of Uncle Sam," memorialized by a statue at River and 3rd Streets downtown. His grave in Oakwood Cemetery, north of Troy, is diligently maintained by the local Boy Scout council, who raise the American flag over it each day.
- Evansville, Indiana: Uncle Sam
- Ottawa Lake, Michigan: Uncle Sam
- Virginia, Minnesota: Uncle Sam
- Hatch, New Mexico: Uncle Sam
- Lake George, New York: Uncle Sam