UFPPC’s Kristi Nebel reports on the unveiling of Burk Ketcham’s latest masterpiece -- and on a dramatic incident that spared it from what seemed to be certain destruction!  --  Also, an addendum on the latest adventure of 'Uncle Sam,' in Seattle, on Mar. 19, 2005, with a link to a spectacular photograph of 'Sam' at the Seattle Center...

By Kristi Nebel

United for Peace of Pierce County
March 16, 2005

This afternoon “Uncle Sam,” the long-awaited art project contributed by Burk Ketcham, made its debut on the line of vigiling war protesters who stand in front of Tacoma's Federal Building every Wednesday afternoon.

“Uncle Sam” is part of Burk’s effort to put a face on the war with the type of propaganda posters that have been popular ever since the original UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU by James Montgomery Flagg immortalized the phrase and image in 1917 for the purposes of World War I recruitment.

Burk’s “Uncle Sam” poster is around eight feet tall and two feet wide. It required a considerable amount of trial and error to accomplish, so it was with great anticipation that the usual gang of UFPPC vigilers unveiled the masterpiece Wednesday for its first run on Tacoma’s front lines against the war.

“Uncle Sam” depicts the familiar iconic figure in full dress -- but one half of him has transmogrified into a grim skeleton holding a pistol. Emblazoned over his torso is a sign, reading: "I KILL FOR OIL."

On Wednesday, the weather was unusually blustery. So the project of holding it against the buffets of the wind went to the tallest and strongest among us, Steve Nebel.

But Steve wasn't prepared for a gust that ripped it away from his firm grip and propelled it directly in front of a big Pierce County Transit bus. As he and Burk looked on in horror expecting Uncle Sam to die quickly under the wheels of the mass transit vehicle (which would have been ironic! -- an SUV, maybe, but not a public bus!), the driver managed an emergency halt within two feet of the treasure.

Thus was Uncle Sam saved by an heroic antiwar (it would appear) bus driver. We all applaud that man!


By Mark Jensen

United for Peace of Pierce County
March 20, 2005

Here's a link to a 1546 x 2048-pixel photo of "Uncle Sam" at the Mar. 19, 2005, antiwar rally and march in Seattle, where he was photographed by innumerable passers-by.  "Sam" was so enthusiastically praised, in fact, that some say a faint blush can be detected in the photograph.  But in fact the tint is caused by anger, not pride:  "Uncle Sam" knows his "success" signifies a systemic failure of the nation he represents to live up to its high ideals, and "Sam" feels a deep sense of shame at what is being done in his name.

--Photo credit: Steve Nebel.