Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Churchill Series - July 8, ,2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On March 7, 1936 Nazi Germany, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, remilitarized the Rhineland. Churchill urged Britain and France to order the Nazi's to withdraw or face military consequences. But the two nations did nothing with one British leader remarking, "The Germans are after all only going into their own back garden"

A little more than three months later, on June 20, 1936, Churchill, then 62 and viewed by many as a failed leader whose parliamentary career could end with a defeat at the next general election, made a passionate and deeply personal speech to his constituents. Here’s its conclusion:

I have done my best during the last three years and more to give timely warning of what was happening abroad, and of the dangerous plight into which we were being led or lulled.

It has not been a pleasant task. It has certainly been a very thankless task. I has brought me into conflict with may former friends and colleagues. I have been mocked and censured as a scaremonger and even as a warmonger, by those whose complacency and inertia have brought us all nearer to war and war nearer to us all.

But I have the comfort of knowing that I have spoken the truth and done my duty, and as long as I have your unflinching support I am content with that.

Indeed I am more proud of the long series of speeches which I have made on defense and foreign policy in the last four years than of anything I have ever been able to do, in all my forty years of public life.
Martin S. Gilbert, Churchill: A Life. (p. 559)


Anonymous said...

John, thank you for educating me, over the past two years, on the life of Winston Churchill.

I was sent this in an email and thought you'd enjoy it. (I've seen the tsunami story before, but it's worth repeating.) Texas Mom


When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by
the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example
of empire building' by George Bush.

He answered by saying, 'Over the years, the United
States has sent many of its fine young men and women
into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.
The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return
is enough to bury those that did not return.'
You could have heard a pin drop.


There was a conference in France where a number of
international engineers were taking part, including French
and American. During a break, one of the French engineers
came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest
dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft
carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What
does he intend to do, bomb them?'
A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: 'Our
carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several
hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply
emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they
have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000
people three meals a day, they can produce several
thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each
day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in
transporting victims and injured to and from their flight
deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does
France have?'

You could have heard a pin drop.


A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference
that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian,
Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception,
he found himself standing with a large group of Officers
that included personnel from most of those countries.
Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped
their drinks, but a French admiral suddenly complained that,
whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn
only English. He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have
to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking
Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied 'Maybe
it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies, and Americans
arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

You could have heard a pin drop.


Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in
Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his
passport in his carry on.
'You have been to France before, monsieur?' the customs officer
asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France
'Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.'
The American said, ''The last time I was here, I didn't have to
show it.'
'Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports
on arrival in France !'
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard
look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore
at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country,
I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.'

You could have heard a pin drop.