I am always very behind in reading the few magazines I subscribe to, so I only got around to reading the November 2013 issue of Smithsonian Magazine recently. The issue presented a look at the “101 Objects That Made America,” drawn from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. The objects were split into nine broad categories including Wild America, Invention, America in the World and Freedom. One of the objects included in the American in the World category was the iconic M*A*S*H signpost.
Here’s the description of the signpost, from page 89:
1972 * American History Museum
A hit TV series helped America think about the Vietnam War
The dark comedy “M*A*S*H” was set during the Korean conflict but aired while America was grappling with the war in Vietnam. “Funny was easy,” Larry Gelbart, the show’s first writer, recalled. “How not to trivialize human suffering by trying to be comic about it, that was the challenge.” This signpost marking the characters’ hometowns appeared on the show’s California set for its 11-year run, which ended with a 1983 finale seen by an unprecedented 125 million people.
Other objects in the America in the World category were Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis airplane, the Novus Orbis Map, a fallout shelter, a gas mask from World War I, an engraving of Pocahontas and a jersey from the 1980 Olympic hockey team.
You can browse all 101 objects at Smithsonian.org.