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 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.