My father knew a man who knew a man who had known Winston Churchill. According to the man who knew him, Churchill “had big guns, but they were loose on deck.”
Winston Churchill was not always on the side of history. He favored involuntary sterilization of the mentally handicapped. He was fiercely opposed to giving India greater independence and said that if Gandhi wanted to try a hunger fast, England should let him starve. During his lifetime Churchill was sometimes considered a national hero, and sometimes so unpopular that his political career seemed over.
Yet war can catapult to fame people who would otherwise never have accomplished enough to get into the history books (Civil War general U. S. Grant is an example of this). Churchill was the man whom England needed during a time of crisis. He showed his capacity for greatness when England faced a constant German bombardment that buried civilians beneath rubble, separated families, and filled the air with fear and unpredictable death.
He is a reminder that sometimes the loud, awkward, inconvenient and passionate people are the ones who save us all.
Fans of The King’s Speech are aware of the immense impact that radio speeches had during World War II. King George VI was not the only man whose voice helped hold England together. Churchill’s speeches are still part of our collective memory, especially passages like these:
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
When quoting the passage above, Wikipedia adds,
“It is said that as the House of Commons thundered in an uproar at his stirring rhetoric, Churchill muttered in a whispered aside to a colleague, ‘And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that's bloody well all we've got!’”
You can find and read Winston Churchill’s speeches in many places online, including this site.
|(Churchill with the royal family at the end of the war)|
We owe a debt to the man who coined the phrase "iron curtain," the man who wrote prolifically, the man who didn't pull his punches. Today is a good day to remember that.
|These are the Churchill books that I keep|
on my shelf. Maybe a cigar or military hat
would be a better accompaniment to them
than a lady's hat, but ladies' hats fit my
decorating scheme better.
Joining up with Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes Friday!