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Keep Calm and Carry On

Posted by on July 12, 2011

I’m fascinated by the Blitz. I feel like this is a part of WWII that didn’t really get covered in school. I may be wrong — maybe the hugeness of the Holocaust part drove everything else out of my head. But I don’t remember learning about it, and now it’s the most interesting part of the war for me.

What I love is the way the British government and the people campaigned for cheerfulness. I mean, endurance and not complaining too much about all the little privations, and not losing your mind about the bombs falling every night, and helping your neighbors, and giving what you can and a bit of what you can’t. But you can sort of sum all that up into a nice Cockney “Oh well, mustn’t grumble.”

Can you imagine Americans today under those circumstances, with bombs falling every night and destroying large patches of the city you love and the people you know, and no way to get any of the little luxuries you’re used to or even many of the necessities? Do you think there would be a tremendous push for togetherness and Stiff Upper Lipping? Or would we all be hiding suspiciously in our houses, hoarding our duct tape and our canned sardines and bottled water?

Would our government be urging us to keep calm and carry on? Would our media?

The day Canada finally decides they’ve had enough of us is going to be a mighty interesting day.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in some light Blitz reading, may I recommend Henrietta’s War and Henrietta Sees It Through? These are compilations of epistolary columns written by a fictitious British housewife living in a small town during the Blitz, in which the author draws on her experience as a real British housewife living in a small town during the Blitz. They are funny, sweet, ironic and sad, and if anyone knows whether the full series of columns has been published anywhere, I’d love to know.

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