Tuesday, August 5, 2008


If marriage is the simple, straightforward theme of our wedding, then I suppose I can splurge a bit and have a motto.

In the Spring of 1939, with war against Germany all but inevitable, the British Government's Ministry of Information commissioned a series of posters to be distributed throughout the country at the onset of hostilities. The posters were a message from the King to his people to stress an “attitude of mind” rather than a specific aim. On the eve of a war that Britain was ill-equipped to fight, it was impossible to know what the nation’s future aims and objectives would be.

At the end of the Summer of 1939, three designs using the crowns of George VI as the only graphic device went into production. The first poster read “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory.” The second carried the slogan “Freedom is in Peril.” The third design simply read “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

The first two designs were distributed in the Fall of 1939 and began to appear in shop windows, on railway platforms, and on advertising boards up and down the country. But the “Keep Calm” posters were held in reserve, intended for use only in times of crisis or invasion. Although some may have found their way onto government office walls, the poster was never officially issued and remained virtually unseen by the public until a copy turned up more than fifty years later in a box of dusty old books bought in auction. It was displayed by a pair of British shop owners who began reproducing it after its immediate popularity.

I first saw the poster on etsy.com, and it immediately put me into the right “attitude of mind.”
I learned more about it on the website of a secondhand bookshop, and I liked it so much that we registered for the poster as a wedding gift, to serve as a constant reminder in our married life.

While some might see a wedding as both a crisis and an invasion, I think it’s neither. I do think, however, that it’s very helpful to be reminded in this time of great change to Keep Calm and Carry On.

1 comment:

Meg said...

We have a HUGE one in our bathroom, actually. But I got it in a soft gold.