The federal government is often referred to as, “Uncle Sam.” However, not many people know why, or from where this nickname stems.
During the War of 1812, a meat-packer from Troy, NY named Samuel Wilson supplied the U.S. Army with barrels of beef. Wilson was known around town as “Uncle Sam” and when he labeled the barrels with “U.S.” the soldiers assumed that’s what the initials stood for. It actually meant “United States,” and the ideas combined where Uncle Sam stood for the United States of America. A newspaper picked up on the story, and as word traveled, the term “Uncle Sam” eventually became synonymous with the federal government.
Decades later, a political cartoonist popularized the image of Uncle Sam— with the white beard, stars and stripes suit, and top hat. The same cartoonist, Thomas Nast (who was German) also created the modern image of Santa Claus, as well as the Democratic donkey and Republican elephant.
During WWI, the Uncle Sam image was greatly popularized when it was used with the slogan “I want you for the U.S. Army” for recruitment purposes. With over four million copies printed, this effort has been called the “most famous poster in the world.” Uncle Sam was officially adopted as a national symbol of the U.S. in 1950.
Troy, NY now calls itself, “The Home of Uncle Sam.”
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. It created the National Wilderness Preservation System and protected roughly 110 million acres of wilderness from development, roads, logging, and other disturbances. It is one of the greatest land preservation efforts in United States history. Of these protected lands, 44 million acres are National Parks.
The lands preserved are some of the most scenic and astoundingly beautiful areas in the country. In celebration of the Wilderness Act, there are events and activities scheduled throughout the country. For more information, check out Celebrating 50 Years of American Wilderness.
Smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol can cause addiction and other serious health issues.
The risk of diseases associated with tobacco and alcohol increase for those who drink and smoke.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 443,000 people in the United States die of illnesses caused by tobacco each year. Meanwhile, about 88,000 die from alcohol-related illnesses.
Diseases caused by smoking tobacco
Smoking cigarettes can cause various types of cancer and chronic illnesses, including:
- Cataracts and blindness
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
- Chronic heart disease (high blood pressure)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (difficulty breathing)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cancer of the larynx, stomach, trachea, lung, esophagus and others
Note: Even those who do not smoke, but are exposed to cigarettes and tobacco, can develop health problems caused by second-hand smoke.
Free resources and help centers to quit smoking
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good resource for smokers, offering plans to quit smoking, self-help materials, and a helpline at 1-800-784-8669, or 1-800-332-8615 (TTY for the hearing impaired).
- Smokefree.gov offers tips on how to quit smoking as well as pamphlets, information about medications and other advice. You can also subscribe to SmokefreeTXT to receive helpful messages on your phone.
- The CDC also has information about community tobacco control programs, campaigns and events in your state.
Diseases caused by alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can cause:
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Cardiomyopathy (stretching of the heart muscle)
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol-induced hepatitis
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreatic blood vessels)
- A weak immune system
- Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast
Free resources and help centers to stop drinking
SMART Recovery helps young people and adults with alcohol or other addiction through group therapy sessions. You can attend in person or seek an online support group.
Read this note in Spanish.