With the advent of the all-volunteer force in the early 1970’s, the Army was forces to increase its recruiting efforts. This involved “marketing” on a level of sophistication beyond posters showing Uncle Sam pointing and declaring “I Want You”. There were three slogans I remember from my time in service.
Shortly after my basic training the advertising agency that won the contest offered this: “There is something about a soldier”. Really? It is hard to imagine what slogans came in second or third. The slogan opened the door to so many stupid and less than flattering comments. My contempt for the agency that came up with that “winner” is second only to my contempt of the “soldiers” who bought it.
Near the end of my career the slogan was: “An Army of One”. This may have appealed to the generation who were steeped in video games and super-hero flicks, but it was a complete anathema to the very concepts of being part of a team so critical to accomplishing typical Army missions. It misrepresented, in my opinion, the idea of a soldier serving something larger than itself. I never took pride when I saw that. It caused me to cringe.
In the middle of my career, when I was commanding troops and training cadets, the Army challenged its prospects to “Be All You Can Be”. This slogan was both a source of pride and an inspiration. When working on a college campus, it served me well as I encouraged 18-year old freshmen to consider a career. It was equally powerful when urging 19-year old privates to go the extra mile or take a bit more care when performing a task. Concurrently, there was a short video that served to reinforce the message using historical context. “When we were needed, we were there” was the most poetic and succinct statement on the patriotic rationale for service. It gives me goosebumps whenever I see it posted on Facebook. A great slogan. A work of genius.