When I first set out to write this article, I was planning it around the concept of a metaphor for "comfort from anxiety" using the famous poster from World War 2 Britain.
It has inspired me on countless occasions to have a stiff upper lip and carry on with my life in times of stress and worry. Just thinking about the people of London getting along with their daily life and work while being bombed almost daily by Hiltler's air attacks from Germany, made me think, "what am I worried about?"
When I first read about the poster I liked the story so much I wrote it on a Post it and stuck it to my computer monitor, In fact, I found a little plaque that I have on my desk to remind me all of the time.
When I began research and discovered some of the history behind it, I learned of the MOI, Ministry of Information, the branch of the British government in charge of publicity and propaganda, which released several posters in 1939 after the outbreak of the war, to keep up the morale of the population in lieu of the German attacks on England.
The first two were, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO).
Most of the posters were let go to ripped up pulp in 1945. A few were later found on a BBC broadcast of Antiques Roadshow, [original article] and worth quite a bit of money. The holders father was in the Royal Observers Corps, the group that placed the posters in shop windows and other public places around London. He decided to hold onto about 15 of them. Being a city planner he just rolled them up with other plans he possessed.
The poster can be seen everywhere, just enter the words "Keep Calm" on Google, especially an image search and you will see thousands of versions. People can change the message in different ways to suit their own messages. There is an "officially licensed store" where you can purchase just about anything with the saying on it, and almost every form…t-shirts, sweatshirts, keychains, plaques etc.. You can even change it right on the order page to what you want it to say. The URL says it all, http:/www.keepcalmandcarryon.com . To demonstrate how well used it is, there is actually a font named "Keep Calm". The original was hand lettered.
But did you know? The poster was never issued. The threat of German invasion was looming large and it was supposed to keep citizens “Calm and Carrying on”. The person who coined the perfectly British phrase has been forgotten by history. The poster gained popularity around the year 2000, 62 years after it was created.
Just last week a German bomb had been found in a London park. [See article here]. They are Still dealing with the repercussions of the blitz in World War 2.
I have been using this as a diversion from anxiety from the stress of everyday life, which is what it was originally meant for, but on a national scale to alleviate a real fear, a large bombshell coming through your roof or the invasion of the Nazi’s and the hell that would come with it.
SO the next time you see this iconic graphic, be comforted, this poster wasn't needed in 1945 but will work for you today, in 2017...Just KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.