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Drawn to Combat – Militarily and Socially

“Who is Bill Mauldin?” reads lamppost banners outside the Monroe Building, where “Drawn to Combat: Bill Mauldin & the Art of War” opened Friday at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, 104 S. Michigan.

Mauldin not only changed how Americans viewed World War II but how we think about war and the military. At a time when the Army was presenting its shiniest spin, when a photo of an American casualty would never be seen in a newspaper, when cartoons about Army life were Sad Sack peeling potatoes, Mauldin created Willie and Joe, a pair of exhausted, bedraggled infantrymen flat on their bellies in the mud, hoping to live long enough to smoke another cigarette.

Nor did his influence end on V-E Day. After the war that made him famous, Mauldin advocated liberal causes decades before they became common. Odds are, if you believe strongly in social justice, Mauldin was advocating your core principles before you were born. He was fighting for civil rights when Martin Luther King was a teenager, for gay rights in the mid-1970s.

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The show is there for a year, until the spring 2022.

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