The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On

This week we printed a shirt with a simple design. It had a graphic of two hands signing with words below saying, “keep calm accept and move on”. Has anyone else noticed the abundance of shirts and posters of this type? They always say “keep calm” followed by a command of some sort. I have always wondered what this was a reference to and what all the hubbub was about. I figured that maybe it was from a television show or something. Turns out the original saying is “Keep Calm and Carry On”. This was the 3rd in a series of 3 wartime posters produced by the British government during World War II intended to boost morale. The first poster said “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might”. The second read, “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, YourResolution Will Bring Us Victory”.

The 3rd “Keep Calm and Carry On” exhortation would be released on the condition of a national crisis during the war such as a bombing or invasion. This poster was never officially issued and was mostly forgotten until it resurfaced in 2000. An owner of a secondhand book store called Barter Books in Northumberland (northeast corner of the UK) discovered one of the original posters as he was sorting through a box of used books bought at auction. He liked it enough to frame it in his store and customers began requesting printed copies of it. A few years later, it has become an international phenomenon.

I feel better now that I am officially “in the know” on the meaning of this poster. An endless number of parodies have been made and I am sure there will be plenty more to come. Now that you know this as well, we have the luxury of being a part of the international inside jokes. Although I believe the original is far better than most of the parodies.