Passage: Smokey the Bear

It happened this week . . . Smokey the Bear celebrated his 70th birthday on Aug. 9.

He was born "smokey bear." A lyricist added the "the" later one, because it worked better in a song he was writing about Smokey.

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Smokey is the face of the longest-running public service announcement campaign in American history.

Smokey was actually created because of worries that -- at the height of World War II -- America's enemies would slip into the country and set forest fires while many firefighters were overseas.

Smokey's mission -- to warn against the threat of fires in the nation's wilderness areas -- remained unchanged once the war ended. In fact, he's now the face of the longest-running public service announcement campaign in American history.

Research shows that 96 percent of us know who Smokey is -- he's right up there with Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus when it comes to name recognition. And Smokey is a thoroughly modern bear. He has more than 300,000 fans on Facebook, and 24,000 followers on Twitter. He even has his own ZIP code -- 20252, if you're curious.

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