Remembering Churchill

Fifty years ago Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill died. He was born on November 30, 1874, and died on January 24, 1965. He was without doubt one of the greatest leaders of last century, and his legacy will forever be with us. This great man was raised up at the right time during some of the darkest hours of human history.

I have often written about him, especially in relation to the Second World War. He was often a lone voice warning about the rise of the Nazis, and he fiercely resisted the naive and dangerous appeasement of those like Chamberlain. As he rightly said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

churchill 6Yet his was a voice calling out in the wilderness, and as a result, the world had to lose tens of millions of lives in what Churchill called a preventable war. He knew about the threat of Hitler, and he knew what was at stake if he was allowed to proceed unchecked.

He was fully aware of how very important things were, and how much Western civilisation hung in the balance. For example, as German fighter bombers attacked British cities in mid-1940, Churchill delivered a powerful speech early on to rally the troops. Just a week after the French had surrendered to the Germans, he spoke in the House of Commons on June 18, 1940, ending with these words:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour”.

Because oceans of ink have been poured out on this incredible man and his leadership during this awful war, there is no need for me to reinvent the wheel here. Victor Davis Hanson has just penned a great piece entitled “Remembering the Last Lion”. Let me offer parts of this here:

Britain was the only major power on either side of the war to fight continuously the entire six years, from September 3, 1939, to September 2, 1945. Britain was the only nation of the alliance to have fought Nazi Germany alone without allies. Churchill’s defiant wartime rhetoric anchored the entire moral case against the Third Reich.
Unlike the Soviet Union or the United States, Britain entered the war without being attacked, on the principle of protecting independent Poland from Hitler. Unlike America, Britain fought Germany from the first day of the war to its surrender. Unlike Russia, it fought the Japanese from the moment Japan started the Pacific War to the Japanese general surrender.
Churchill’s Britain had a far smaller population and economy than either the Soviet Union or the United States. Its industry and army were smaller than Germany’s. Defeat would have meant the end of British civilization. But victory would ensure the end of the British Empire and a future world dominated by the victorious and all-powerful United States and Soviet Union. It was Churchill’s decision that Britain would fight on all fronts of both the European and Pacific theaters….
The wisdom and spirit of Winston Churchill not only saved Britain from the Third Reich, but Western civilization from a Nazi Dark Ages when there was no other nation willing to take up that defense. Churchill was the greatest military, political and spiritual leader of the 20th century. The United States has never owed more to a foreign citizen than to Winston Churchill, a monumental presence 50 years after his death.

Yes, the whole world is indebted to this great man. It is hoped our memory of him and his achievements will never fade. Indeed, he has left us with plenty of memorable quotations. So let me finish with just a few of his many remarkable and stirring quotes. Of course we could highlight his cutting wit and acerbic humour, as in these famous remarks:

In an exchange between Churchill and Lady Astor:
She said, “If you were my husband, I’d give you poison.”
He said, “If you were my wife, I’d take it.”

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.”

But let me instead focus on his great comments, especially in association with WWII:

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

“May God prosper our arms in the noble adventure after our long struggle for King and Country, for dear life, and for the freedom of mankind.”

“Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of truth and justice: ‘Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altars. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be’.”

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

“This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure.”

“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Lastly, let me share this story and quote:

An American veteran who was part of the D-Day invasion described meeting Churchill prior to the launch of that bloody offensive against the forces of Nazism. He said D-Day was the most frightening experience of his life. “In fact,” he said, “I don’t think some of us would have been able to do what we did if it weren’t for a visit we got just before we crossed the English Channel.” That visit was from Winston Churchill. He rode up in a jeep, got out, and mingled with the troops. “He shook hands with us and even hugged some of us,” the veteran recalled. “He spoke of his own wartime experience and identified with our emotions. Then, he stood up in his jeep and gave a five-minute speech. He spoke the whole time with tears in his eyes.” Here’s what Churchill said: “Gentlemen – I know you are afraid. I remember being afraid when I was a soldier. I had the privilege of defending my country…through dark days when we didn’t know whether we would accomplish what we had been given to do. But this is your moment. We are counting on you to rise to the occasion and achieve everything you have set out to do. The fate of the free world rests on your shoulders. May this be your finest hour.” The veteran said, “Needless to say, our group of frightened soldiers turned into a band of men who were ready to take on anybody.” Togetherness – it’s a powerful thing when you put it into practice!

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14 Replies to “Remembering Churchill”

  1. So are you implying, Bill, that the time has arrived for us all to be Churchills?

  2. Churchill would be horrified at what has happened to Britain since his death!

  3. Our nation is governed at all levels by appeasers. At least Neville Chamberlain was a gentleman. Certain peoples have declared war against us and there is no defence of any kind at any level. Oh! The danger level is high, whatever that means in reality. The enemy digests our freedom, our welfare, any many other things. We sit back and say ‘you are equal’. Rubbish! You are inferior to our civilisation in every way.

  4. Churchill’s words still apply to all cultural warriors, moral campaigners and pro-life activist.
    “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure.”
    “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
    “If you are going through hell, keep going.”
    “Never, ever give up”

  5. Yes, a great shame that the country, Britain, has had such pygmies and rogues to rule it ever since WSC – so now we face the dark night of absorption into the EU, the work of traitors, cowards …

  6. A most inspiring article, Bill. As you rightly say, the world owes a great debt to Sir Winston Churchill’s monumental wartime leadership in the defence of freedom and western civilisation. It’s not at all surprising that he is widely regarded as Britain’s greatest ever Prime Minister. Although Churchill was honoured by the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human value” it is regrettable that he was not also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (as many believe he should have been). That would have provided a fitting reminder to our politically correct generation that peace is not won by appeasement but by our courage and willingness to stand by our convictions and for our Christian heritage.

  7. A “great leader”?

    When Churchill appeased Stalin almost as shamelessly as F.D.R. did, without even F.D.R.’s post-1944 excuse of senile decay?

    When, at first, Churchill refused to believe that the Katyn Forest massacre had occurred?

    And when, once the facts about that massacre had become indisputable, Churchill remarked: “There is no use prowling morbidly round the three-year-old graves at Smolensk”?

    Perhaps to the Vietnam War’s American and Australian baby-boomers – the first generation in history who made draft-dodging into a moral code – Churchill will seem great. No serious historian thinks so. And no Polish Catholic does either.

  8. Thanks Arnold. But as most people realise, to praise a person for various great achievements is not to say there were perfect, or had no downsides, or areas of real concern. Of course Churchill did not always get it right – neither did many other great conservative leaders such as Thatcher or Reagan. But I will take them any day of the week over most other leaders. And your rather silly statement about no historian approving of Churchill nearly resulted in your comment going straight into the bin. There are plenty of historians – serious or otherwise – who have had high regard for Churchill, including one offering us a good piece even just today:

  9. It is interesting that the passage, “Be ye men of valour …” comes from the Apocrypha ie 1 Maccabees 3:58. It was the speech of Judas Maccabaeus before battle.

  10. I am pleased to see that you hyphenated his last name. Although Churchill did not hyphenate it himself, when I visited the family graves in England I noticed that every member of the family, including women who married into it, were call Spencer Churchill. Of course, it goes back to the days when two noble families, the Spencers and the Churchills intermarried.

  11. Churchill was a leader for his time – this is true. But, another great leader that came before him was a lone voice crying out for England to repent before it slid down that slippery slope of spiritual compromise. England is in dark spiritual depravity because they refused to heed the voice of one, Charles Spurgeon.

  12. So many dying for the defense of “Christian Civilization” and a few decades later corrupt politicians give it away.

    Churchill was exactly what Britain needed at the time but we should never forget that he was the author of short sited and poorly thought out debacles such as Gallipoli. He was, however, a magnificent orator and was able to rally people in their darkest hour.

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