Family Traditions of Service: “Gone to Bury Tojo” Stenciled Sign

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

“Gone to Bury Tojo” Stenciled Sign, Date: March 22, 1943

“Gone to Bury Tojo” Stenciled Sign, Date: March 22, 1943

As Americans left their jobs and friends for military service in World War II, many tried to assure their friends and families that they would return safely from their service through letters, photographs, and artwork. Many used a mixture of humor and art to leave an uplifting smile on the people they knew in their daily life.

William H. Harrington Sr. of Erwin in Harnett County, North Carolina, designed and signed this hand-made, stenciled sign on March 22, 1943. Harrington placed this sign over his office chair at his company’s Dunn, N.C. office for his fellow employees before he left for service. His company’s newsletter reprinted the sign in its newsletter as a notification to other employees of Harrington’s leave for military service. Drafted or enlisted individuals often left marks of some sort at their homes, places of work, and schools—through signs, markings on walls or desks, and photographs.

If you want to learn more about the life of this World War II North Carolinian in the service, check out the William H. Harrington Sr. Papers, found in the WWII Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.


This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service:  A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.