Americans also helped finance the war by buying war bonds. More than $190 billion worth of bonds were purchased by private citizens over the course of the war. The program was heavily promoted with campaigns that involved movie stars, national celebrities, and even comic book heroes like Superman and Batman.
The first really patriotic song, ‘Remember Pearl Harbor,’ exhorted: “Let's remember Pearl Harbor as we go to meet the foe. . . . Let's remember Pearl Harbor as we did the Alamo.” Equally rousing was Frank Loesser's “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” which was based on the legend that a chaplain had assisted gunners firing on Japanese planes.
Eight war bond drives were conducted from December 1942 to December 1945, and the response was tremendous. Two out of every three Americans, many using payroll deduction plans, bought Series E bonds, which were first issued in September 1943. Even children got into the act, pasting twenty-five-cent war bond stamps into a special book until it was full and they could redeem it for a $25 bond.
The interest rate for war bonds was 1.8 percent, compared with 4.25 percent for similar bonds issued during World War I. But most Americans didn't mind because buying the bonds made them feel as if they were really helping the war effort, which they were. Small investors bought about $40 billion worth of bonds, with the rest being purchased by commercial banks, states, local governments, and other bodies.
Many families proudly displayed blue stars in their front windows to indicate that they had a family member serving in the military. The blue star was replaced with a gold star if the family member was killed in action.