News & Politics » Year In Review

The Home Front

Exploiting war is a dirty little job, but somebody's got to do it.

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12/10/90 The head of a Dallas advertising agency introduces Saddam Hussein voodoo dolls. The dolls retail at $10 and come with a label that reads "Stick it to Saddam. Stick him in the head and puncture his plans. . . . Puncture his stomach--but beware, it's full of poison gas. . . . Jab Saddam in the legs and bring him to his knees. . . . Don't waste time stabbing Saddam's heart, he has none." A sales representative tells the New York Times, "If they reach a settlement in January, the shelf life is gone."

12/22/90 WVVX disc jockey Scott Loftus announces a Christmas Day installment of "Operation Mega-Tapes," in which he dedicates his heavy metal radio show to U.S. soldiers in the Gulf, taking requests, messages, and dedications from friends and relatives at home. "Listeners are again urged to make tapes of the Scott Loftus show on this special night and send them to U.S. service personnel stationed in the Persian Gulf." Loftus explains, "Heavy metal and hard rock are real American forms of music . . . it's also very aggressive music that will help keep them 'up.' If it turns into a shooting war over there, the government ought to be supplying them with this kind of music."

1/11/91 Governor Thompson sends 2,500 "Made in Illinois" T-shirts to Illinoisans serving in the Gulf. The Old Town School of Folk Music launches "Harmonica Desert Shield," supplying U.S. personnel in the Gulf with 200 harmonicas and instructional tapes.

1/20/91 The Jewish United Fund of Chicago raises $1.3 million in a one-day local phone-a-thon after Iraqi missile attacks on Israel.

1/22/91 The first of the Gulf War 900 phone lines opens, offering draft counseling and an Adopt-a-Troop service. Other 900 lines offer a war protest hotline, Israeli Red Cross updates, and an opinion poll asking whether Saddam Hussein should be tried for war crimes.

1/28/91 Edy's Grand Ice Cream launches "Operation Ice Cream," sending gift certificates to children who write in about a relative in the military and "why they are proud of them." An Edy's spokesman describes this as a "small contribution to the total war effort."

1/31/91 Midway Airlines distributes "Spirit From Home" postcards to its passengers, to be filled out and mailed to U.S. soldiers in the Gulf.

2/4/91 Loews Theaters launches "Operation Valentine," collecting valentine cards for U.S. soldiers in theater lobbies.

2/8/91 The Gulf War becomes a theme in Reader matches ads: "Send your smart bomb my way. . . . No scuds, please," and "Highly charged . . . with very own long-range missile. . . . Must have her life on track, be self assured, and want a relationship that's more exciting than the skies over Baghdad. No smokers, no druggies and no scuds."

2/13/91 Southwest Airlines launches its "LUVGRAMS--Send Your Heart to Saudi" campaign: more valentines for U.S. troops.

2/14/91 Governor Edgar proclaims Valentine's Day "Support Operation Desert Storm Day."

2/18/91 Medinah Shrine Circus offers free tickets to people who write letters to U.S. soldiers.

2/26/91 Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis, a book that went out of print in 1984, is reissued as part of the literature of the Gulf War. This new genre, which includes titles like The Rape of Kuwait, Instant Empire, and How to Defeat Saddam Hussein, offers everything from Biblical prophecy to charts of Saddam's family tree.

3/1/91 Soldier of Fortune magazine carries an advertisement for the "Desert Shield Supply Depot," offering Desert Storm T-shirts, patches, and desert-camouflage uniforms.

3/2/91 Cable station VH-1 airs a satellite broadcast of music videos "carefully selected to conform to standards in place for troops in the Gulf." The special is hosted by Cher, who calls it "the least we can do for the heroic members of our armed forces."

3/6/91 Atari sends 15 video game systems to U.S. soldiers in the Gulf, featuring simulations of air-to-air and surface-to-air combat missions. The corporation's president says, "It's interesting that most of the pilots there are in their 20s and 30s--people who first played Atari as youngsters."

3/21/91 Great Lakes Machining, Inc., registers the trademark "Patriot" for a two-blade arrowhead. A press release asks, "what better way could any American company have of saying 'thank you' to our troops, our way of life and our precious hunting rights than to name a new product after our nation's modern day patriots."

3/31/91 HBO broadcasts Welcome Home Heroes With Whitney Houston live from Norfolk Naval Air Station, featuring Whitney's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." Copies of the concert are later sold to the public, along with Gulf War highlights (produced by NFL Films), General Schwarzkopf's victory press briefing, and ABC's War in the Gulf: Answering Children's Questions, with Peter Jennings.

4/13/91 The U.S. Stamp Collectors Society issues a pair of red, white, and blue envelopes bearing the official U.S. Postal Service "Operation Desert Storm Victory" postmark. One of them features an illustration of the Liberty Bell and reads, "Let freedom ring throughout the Middle East."

5/1/91 Bluesman Leslie Isaiah Gaines advertises his new record featuring "The Insane Hussein Blues, Parts I & II," "America Kicked Butt," and the "Kick Some Butt Blues." This follows country singer Hank Williams Jr.'s earlier release of "Don't Give Us a Reason," in which he warns Hussein to "back off and get smart."

5/10/91 Giordano's Pizza distributes 5,000 coupons to veterans at Chicago's "Welcome Home" parade. (The parade is documented in a coffee-table book priced at $24.95.) Then the celebration continues with an "Operation Welcome Home Fundraiser" at the Hyatt Regency. The party, styled after a 1940s USO dance ("Kilroy Will Be There!"), features "nostalgic entertainment from the Swing Era," roving cigarette girls, and a Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell look-alike contest.

5/15/91 Hershey's markets its "Desert Bar" to the U.S. public for the first time--a candy bar packaged in camouflage colors and heat resistant up to 140 degrees.

5/18/91 Armed Forces Week activities include a display of military hardware at O'Hare and a "Desert Storm Salute Concert" at the World Music Theatre, featuring Tom Dreesen as MC and a performance by the Air Force Starlifter combo, "the best in popular music from the 40s to the most current sounds at the top of today's charts."

5/20/91 Intermatic, Inc. of Spring Grove donates low-voltage "Welcome Home Lights" to light the lawns of returning Gulf War veterans.

6/7/91 To coincide with the "National Victory Celebration" in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Postal Service unveils its new 29-cent Desert Storm commemorative stamp.

6/12/91 Fair Lanes, Inc., a nationwide bowling chain, issues $10 bowling certificates to Persian Gulf and Vietnam veterans.

7/27/91 The 1991 Chicago Park District Budweiser Air & Water Show kicks off, with its official theme "A Special Salute to the U.S. Military." On display are the Stealth Fighter, the B-1 bomber, and many other fighters, bombers, helicopters, and ground support vehicles that "served our country in Operation Desert Storm."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Susan DeGrane.

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