At the Museum of Veterans and Military History in Vilonia, there was an opportunity for ninth grade civics students to learn about propaganda and purpose.
Students from Vilonia Freshman Academy sat at picnic tables inside the barn at the museum, listening to students from the University of Central Arkansas guided by Dr. John H. Saunders. Duplicated posts from the World War II era were shown.
Dr. Saunders began by telling students that propaganda “utilizes media and attempts to persuade a mass audience to believe or behave in a specific way that is desired by the author of the message.”
The UCA students then presented the various posters, having done their homework to find the history and message of each one.
One Italian poster showed Hitler standing tall, clutching a Nazi flag. It’s purpose was to persuade the German people that Hitler was a leader. There was a halo effect around Hitler, gold leaves, oak trees, and soldiers saluting Hitler from the rear. The conclusion was that Hitler was being portrayed as a “divine leader,” and the poster was meant to remind people of biblical reference.
A British poster, “Keep Mum, She’s Not So Dumb” intrigued the students. It shows an elegant woman with soldiers close by. The men were being reminded to be careful what they said, because a pretty woman could also be a spy.
Other posters were also presented. “You are exposed to more propaganda now than ever,” Saunders said. “I would encourage you to learn and use your skills to understand the world you live in today and to protect yourself. You shouldn’t let propaganda determine your mindset or what is in your heart.”