“Shoulder to shoulder”

Canadians often work “shoulder to shoulder” to get the job done, as illustrated in a famous World War II poster. Decades later, wartime rallying cries took on new resonance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rolling up our sleeves to fight a deadly adversary put a new spin on the expression. We couldn’t be physically close, but during the pandemic Canadians were getting ready to put their shoulders to work in getting the jab.

During the war, “Shoulder to shoulder” was just one of dozens of Canadian slogans intended to prod participation in the war by both genders. Meanwhile, “Attack on all fronts” showed that industrial and agricultural work could complement military efforts. “Every Canadian Must Fight”, depicting a munitions worker reloading the machinegun of a front-line combatant, had a similar thrust.

In a new century, and in fighting a new foe, calls for collective effort endure. But tweets in feeds have replaced posters on walls. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, for example, could be seen tweeting in the midst of pandemic: “The secret to success against #COVID19 is not easy for any of us, it means constant vigilance on the part of everyone and relentless work.” Even without explicit propaganda, public authorities still find ways to give mass mobilization a shot in the arm.

Image source: Canadian War Museum

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