G.I. Joe

The term G I has for a long time designated enlistees in the US Army, usually privates. It has its strongest association with World War 2, although the term is still sometimes used. There are several stories about its origin. One story has it that it comes from the label “galvanized iron” which was a label on some materials on an Army base early in the 20th century. The most accepted story is that G I comes from “government issue,” a label describing equipment bought by the government and issued to soldiers for use, and that G I then became used for the common Army enlistee, apparently starting in the 1930s. In 1942, a cartoonist who had been drafted into the Army started a cartoon strip titled “G I Joe”, which appeared in a widely circulated American military weekly magazine, Yank. The term spread widely, was quickly widely used by the media, and became more famous after the war, with the G I Bill that provided millions of veterans with an education. The famous G I Joe action toy came out in 1964 and made the term G I well known again. It is still used for today’s all volunteer Army.

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