During a trip to England last year, my husband and I came upon the Barter Bookstore that houses the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” Poster.
In the spring of 1939 when the war against Germany was inevitable, King George VI wanted to convey a message to his people assuring them that all necessary measures were being taken to defend the nation. His intent was to “stress an attitude of mind” as it was uncertain what the future would hold.
Three Posters, Three Messages…
Three designs for posters went into production. The first and second posters read:
“Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory”
“Freedom is in Peril, Defend It With All your Might”
Both of these posters were distributed in September, 1939 in shop windows and on railway platforms throughout the country.
The third poster “Keep Calm and Carry On” was 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 rare copy turned up more than fifty years later in a box of old books bought in auction by Barter Books in Ainwick, England!
The shop owners liked the poster so much that they had it framed and displayed in their store. It became so popular with customers that in 2001, the owners decided to print and sell a facsimile edition of their original poster which has since become a best-seller!
COVID-19 Application of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” Poster
As our country and the world faces the uncertainty of COVID-19, may we all be reminded of the example of King George VI that “stresses an attitude of mind” to persevere despite the uncertainties we’re facing and “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
Bonnie Artman Fox works with leaders and organizations to resolve conflict and build trust so teams get along and produce bottom-line results. She is a leadership coach and speaker who specializes in practical solutions to facing sensitive situations in the workplace that positively impacts all involved.