"The outrageousness of the graffiti was not so much what it said, but where it turned up."
~Charles Paniti, author
Embrace the Past...
Who was Kilroy anyway? Did he really exist, a real person, or is he just a myth - no more than a funny little scribbled face for amusement? You know there is quite a story, or should I say stories, behind Kilroy. Which of the stories is actually true is yet to be determined but there is one that seems to recur more than others. Before revealing that account, here is one etched with a bit of humor.
Kilroy is described as a GI fiancéon the lam with his USO girlfriend in hot pursuit and folks along the way helpfully scribbling "Kilroy was here!" as their way of helping his frustrated bride track down her man!
The #1 legend and the one that seems to be circulating the Internet the most is as follows:
One legend how "Kilroy was here" started is with James J. Kilroy of Boston, a shipyard inspector during WWII. (He had been hired by the Fore River shipyard, Dec 5, 1941, just two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.) He chalked the words on bulkheads to show that he had been there and inspected the riveting in the newly constructed ship. Why was this necessary other than to say "Kilroy was here", you might ask?
Since his job was to count the completed rivets he wanted to leave a mark where he left off. He used chalk to mark the spot but not everyone was as honest as James Kilroy. Other riveters would erase his mark resulting in some rivets being counted and ultimately paid for twice. Once James discovered what was going on he began to scrawl "Kilroy was here" on his rounds and accompanied his words with the little drawing. He completed too many counts too fast for the dishonest riveters to keep up with him and erase all of his drawings.
Many famous battleships and numerous troop carriers bare Kilroy's mark. To the troops in those ships, however, it was a complete mystery — all they knew for sure was that he had "been there first." As a joke, they began placing the graffiti wherever they (the US forces) landed or went, claiming it was already there when they arrived!
NOTE: This account was the origin reported by the New York Times in 1946. There was an addition to the report that Kilroy had marked the ships themselves as they were being built. He had hoped at a later date the phrase would be found chalked in places that no graffiti-artist could have gone, i.e., inside hull spaces. This, in turn, fed the mythical significance of the phrase. After all, if Kilroy could leave his mark there, who knew what else he could do? James Kilroy was a Boston City Councillor and State Representative. He died in Halifax, MA in 1962.
Whichever account is true, "Kilroy WAS here!" During WWII, he became the US super-GI who always arrived first wherever, no matter where, GIs went. He showed up in the craziest and most unexpected places even to the point of becoming a challenge for someone to place the little fellow in a most unlikely place. It has been speculated that Kilroy resides atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arc de Triomphe, and scrawled in the dust on the moon. Fact or fiction? Check it out on Snopes.com.
Empower the Present...
Kilroy lives on especially in the hearts and minds of those who grew up in the post-war years of WWII. Even with the ending of the fad in the 1950s, Kilroy still emerged somewhere, someplace in time. The little bald fellow with his tiny tuft of hair and prominent nose is still clutching to and peeping from behind a wall or over a fence somewhere in the world today!
Enrich the Future...
Keep the spirit of Kilroy alive. Each time you encounter or perhaps scribble the little drawing reflect on times past with emotions held taut during times of war and one tiny act of honesty that left an endearing mark.
Have you ever left the Kilroy mark? If so, where and when was YOUR Kilroy here?
The Legends of "Kilroy Was Here" http://www.kilroywashere.org/001-Pages/01-0KilroyLegends.html
Kilroy was here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here
What's the origin of "Kilroy was here?" http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1812/whats-the-origin-of-kilroy-was-here
Kilroy is here. Can you find him? http://voices.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2006/05/kilroy_is_herecan_you_find_him.html