Americana: Duct Tape

Duct tape came into use during World War II, when it was used to repair everything from ammunition boxes to weapons, to Jeeps, to airplanes. Uploaded by wikimedia.org.

What holds America together? Is it our shared history? Our common sense of purpose, of what it means to be Americans? Is it the founding documents that have given us direction and hope? Much as these things help, the fact is that America is held together by duct tape.

Duct tape on Apollo 13. Uploaded by workingonthemoon.com.

This fabric tape sealed with polyethylene can fix just about anything. When the Apollo 13 mission encountered critical danger with its CO2 scrubbers, duct tape helped provide the solution and saved the lives of the astronauts on board. The ground crew member who designed the solution said, “I felt we were home free,” when he learned there was duct tape on board.

People disagree about whether the proper name is duct or duck tape, and about which usage came first. It’s generally agreed that the tape first came into use during World War II when it was used to repair Jeeps, weapons, even aircraft. There is one use, however for which duct tape isn’t allowed. And that is to tape up ducts. Apparently it doesn’t meet building codes.

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