2007   JULY 4   #185

Jack Henry and Bill Neale - Portraits in Patriotism

01. Jack Henry and Bill Neal - Liberty Bell (3:36)
02. Jack Henry - Caesar Rodney (2:44)
03. Jack Henry - Jeremiah O'Brien (2:46)
04. Jack Henry - Noah Webster (2:47)
05. Jack Henry and Bill Neal - Ted Williams (3:30)
06. Jack Henry and Bill Neal - John Buckley (3:33)
07. Jack Henry - Admiral David Farragut (2:46)
08. Jack Henry - The 54th Massachusetts (2:52)
09. Jack Henry - How Women Got the Vote (2:48)
10. Jack Henry - Mary Anton (2:47)
11. Jack Henry - Colin Kelly (2:50)
12. Jack Henry - Matthew Henson (2:48)
13. Jack Henry and Bill Neal - The Original Astronauts (3:28)
14. Jack Henry and Bill Neal - Combat Nurse (3:22)

15. 1982 Army "See Europe" Recruitment PSA (:30)

What better way to celebrate America's Birthday than by looking back on the people who helped to make this the greatest, strongest, most honorable nation on Earth? Grab a bottle of Miller High School and kick back. It's history time.

These tracks are taken from albums produced by the United States Navy Recruiting Service in 1968, and they're laden with the sort of feel-good jingoistic propaganda that would fill a young man's heart with pride and send him straight from graduation to the nearest Navy recruiting center, even though there was a very unpopular war taking place.

I've got three of these albums, two of which are labeled "School Series 1968," which is odd enough, but the format is even odder. Each album side consists of five lock-banded tracks, with the first serving as an introduction and the last as a summary of the series. They're listed in "educational resource" catalogs of government publications for teachers of the day. Maybe they played a cut each day during morning announcements at the local high school. The thought makes me shudder.

I've chosen the best of the lot and sorted them into a somewhat chronological order. "Ted Williams," "The Original Astronauts," and "Combat Nurse" are all closing tracks, so they've got the sign-off music and announcement. You'll learn plenty about why America is the greatest nation ever, and why you should strive to be like people who killed or died for our principles. Two of my favorite quotes can be found in "The 54th Massachusetts" ("If Abraham Lincoln should somehow appear in the jungles of Vietnam...") and "Matthew Henson" ("...they stood together, a distinguished naval officer and an unknown negro..."). It was, after all, 1968.

Bill Neal was a radio and television announcer who worked in the Baltimore and Washington areas for much of his life. He died last September at the age of 81. There's no information online about "Jack Henry," but given the talent shown in the narration, I suspect this is a well-known announcer moonlighting under a pseudonym.

As a bonus to show how peacetime promotion played, I've included an Army recruitment spot from a 1982 radio transcription. It promises that if you sign up with four of your buddies, you can all see Europe together. I don't think that offer is still available.

- Contributed by: Derek Gerry

Image: Record Label

Media: 33 1/13 rpm 10" albums
Album: Portraits in Patriotism
Label: United States Navy Recruiting Service
Catalog: 1968 School Series, Disc 1, Disc 2; Unknown Year, Disc 1
Date: 1968