For some reason, many Americans admire all things British. For instance, we are often impressed by the accent of those hailing from across the ocean. When an individual from Great Britain says something, they sound a great deal more intelligent than those of us born in farmland U.S.A.
Even though we fought for freedom from our Mother country over two hundred years ago, we are still tied to her apron strings by our fascination with England’s royalty, culture, and celebrities. Can I get an “Amen” from a few Beatles or Downton Abbey fans?
That’s why it’s no surprise that an historic five word phrase originated by the Brits has caused an ongoing marketing stir stateside. “Keep Calm and Carry On,” can be found on coffee cups, T-shirts, infant attire, phone cases, decals, tote bags, aprons, wall plaques, and you name it.
In 1939, it all began with a few World War II posters designed by the Ministry of Information, the public relations branch of the British government created to encourage the country’s citizens during the war. According to the www.keepcalmandcarryon.com website, “With a bold coloured background, the posters were required to be similar in style and feature the symbolic crown of King George VI along with a simple yet effective font. The first two posters, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO).”
Both of these positive propaganda posters were displayed all over England on buses, store windows, and in public places. While the third poster with the words, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was not to be issued until Britain experienced a crisis or invasion. Multiple sources estimate that approximately 2.5 million copies were printed, but never released. It is speculated that following World War II most of the posters were destroyed.
Fast forward over 50 years when a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster with a red background was discovered in Barter Books, a used bookstore in northeast England. In 2000, the bookseller’s owner found the copy among some old books he purchased from an auction. The poster was then framed and hung in the bookstore. Copies were eventually made and sold, as customers embraced the motivational message.
The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On produced in a short video by Barter Books channel on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrHkKXFRbCI reports that, “Since that time, the poster has been reproduced, parodied, trivialized, and has become a truly iconic image of the 21st century.”
A parody in www.dictionary.com is by definition “ a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.” Parodies of the famous slogan include: “Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake,” “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes,” “Keep Calm and Read a Romance,” “Keep Calm and Tweet On,” “Now Panic and Freak Out,” and “Keep Calm … Oh Who Are We Kidding,” along with countless more.
Like the last two parodies portray, it’s not easy to remain tranquil in a world filled with ongoing chaos. Still, the British are known for their stiff upper lip of exercising great restraint in the midst of calamity. The poster’s popularity is also benefiting Americans seeking the virtue of self-control, because its timeless wisdom appears universal.
But how do we “Keep Calm?” Citing the stressful situations life produces, New York Times Best-selling author Joyce Meyer offers some advice in her article, “How to Calm Down and Cheer Up,” on her website, www.joycemeyer.org. “We need to have a change of attitude,” writes Meyer. “The right attitude and approach can completely turn a situation around. Instead of stressing out and tensing up, calm down, take a deep breathe and try to get some perspective on the situation.”
The evangelistic lady speaker admits, “You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you respond to it.” Meyer sounds like an NFL coach in the locker room before a challenging game when she advises, “Take an offensive approach and decide beforehand what your attitude will be.”
To “Keep Calm and Carry On” appears to be a faith-filled choice that one can make in the midst of daunting circumstances. However, not only carrying on, but becoming hopeful about the future as well. Maybe that’s why some of us find the words on that old World War II poster so inspirational. The video’s narrator explains, “Like a voice out of history it offers a very simple, warm-hearted message to inspire confidence in others during difficult times.”
Christina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com