Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat"

... was all he had to offer to the citizens of his country when he became Prime Minister in 1940.  But he and his country found the resolve, inspiration, confidence and endurance  to see Britain through its darkest hour.  He refused to give in when others said there was no hope.  And for that the world owes him an immense debt since the fate of England was essentially seen to be the fate of the world.

He served in the House of Commons for over 60 years, first as a Tory, then as a Liberal and finally as a Conservative.  His voice was one of the very few that opposed appeasement and warned about the need for Britain to rearm so as to be able to defend itself. He pushed for new ships and the development of new warfare systems such as tanks, radar and military aircraft.

He was to serve as Prime Minister twice, first from 1940-1945 and then again from 1951-1955, retiring when he was 80 years old.

He was there when citizens, using their private boats, helped to evacuate over 340,000 troops from Dunkirk over the English Chanel to safety so that they could fight again in defense of their island.

He, with all Londoners, endured the nightly bombing raids that made up the Battle of Britain and destroyed entire sections of the city .  He was later to say of the brave young pilots, so many of whom were to give their lives, and who fought night after night to keep the enemy at bay, that never in the course of history had "so much been owed by so many to so few."

As a young man he had trained as a soldier and was to always maintain the ability to think as one and the courage to respond to situations as one.  He toured the front lines, assessed situations, listened to the military leaders and the soldiers on the ground and worked indefatigably to maintain morale and preserve hope in a brighter tomorrow.

It has been 50 years since the country mourned his death in January 1955.  His was the only state funeral of a commoner in all of the 20th century.  As his funeral barge passed down the Thames the huge dock cranes lowered to half mast in his honor.

He was buried beside his parents in a church yard in sight of Blenheim Palace where he had been born 90 years before.  His grave is marked by a simple gravestone engraved only with the names and dates for his wife Clementine and himself:

                                                Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

A great man who believed that the British nation had the heart of a lion and it was his job to give the roar.

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