Words: Keep Calm…And Trivialize On


Make That “Boston Weak”

It’s hard to go anywhere these days without seeing a variety of tee shirts and paraphernalia emblazoned with the first three words of that famous saying abruptly followed by a fatuous phrase created by the wearer, their group or some foolish merchandiser.  “Keep Calm and Rape” was briefly the fashion a few months ago.

Seldom before has a slogan sunk so low.

Beginning in 1939 Britain, especially London, was the target of Nazi terror in the form of an epic air battle, blitz bombings and finally the V-1 and V-2 rockets which killed thousands and maimed tens of thousands more.  Hitler hoped to destroy the British fighting spirit partly by demoralizing the populace.

Rick Atkinson in the Guns at Last Light tells of  a V-1 striking Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks during services there:

“Through the Chapel’s concrete walls it plummeted before detonating in a white blast that blew out walls, blew down support pillars…A funnel of smoke curled 1500 feet above the wrecked nave, rubble ten feet deep buried the pews even as six candles guttered on the altar and the bishop stood unharmed.  One hundred and twenty one others were dead and many more injured.”

The Blitz

The story of one bombing among tens of thousands.

Nazi terror famously failed to work.  Londoners, ever stoic, went about their business.  In fact, the terror bombings stiffened the resolve of civilians not just to survive, but to play their part in Germany’s defeat.

75 years later we have appropriated and subsequently desecrated their poignant reminder to stand strong amidst the mayhem.


Imagine in a few decades seeing “9/11 Never Forget” morphed into “9/11-Get Over It” or a similarly degrading epithet.

Be outraged but not surprised.

Cheapening “their finest hour” through crass appropriation is but one more victory of mindless pop culture unshackled from the anchor of history.




  • Mike says:

    How sad and true

  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    Well put, Eric. This is the age of the trivial. It’s like the fatuous memorials of teddy bears and the like at the scene of tragedies. Well-intended, no doubt, but smarmy.

  • Glenn says:

    There is so much coming at the current generation of kids today. There is also great pressure on teachers to raise scholastic performance scores today. How does this impact the classroom? And how the next generation will appreciate how our country interacts with the new flat world, the mistakes and lessons learned from our past?

    I was in the company of a number of our neighbors at a cook out recently and was speaking with a middle school student. We got on the subject of American history since we are at the 150 year anniversary of the great battle in Gettysburg, PA. I asked the question “what are your thoughts of our involvement in the Vietnam War.?” His response, “well we never got to it. “Our teacher kind of ran out of time.We worked on preparing for those standardized test toward the end of the year.”

    If we are not informed, do not understand, then it is likely we will not respect or honor the past greatness of those we should look to for future guidance.

  • Mick Mayers says:

    Everything these days can be turned into a popular statement. In today’s world, everyone is striving to have the wittiest thing to say, sometimes at the peril of being crass or insensitive (and I’m not talking about PC insensitivity, either). Recently someone I considered an intelligent sort retweeted a really callous statement made totally off-hand, but not thinking about the people it made a statement to. Let’s put it this way- it likened individuals taking potshots on the internet to those with disabilities. When I was in second grade and didn’t know how hurtful those statements were, I could understand it. As an adult, I try to understand the ramifications of the things I say. But all’s fair in the quest to be the wittiest one around, right?

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