(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
On June 18, 1940 France began armistice talks with Nazi Germany. That same day Churchill delivered, first in Commons, and later on the BBC (live broadcasts were not then permitted in the Commons) his stirring speech which ended:
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty 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.”When we think of Churchill, those and other imperishable words come immediately to mind.
In this post I want to share with you now mostly forgotten remarks - they're not really a speech - Churchill delivered on the BBC the night before his June 18 "Finest Hour" speech.
Churchill delivered his statement, meant to both stiffen the resolve and reassure the British people, immediately following the conclusion of the BBC’s 9 PM news report in which it was announced that France's Raynaud’s government had fallen and been succeeded by one headed by Petain that was negotiating an armistice with Nazi Germany:
The news from France is very bad, and I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune. Nothing will alter our feelings towards them or our faith that the genius of France will rise again.It's not a speech, but it's eloquent, focused, and stirring.
What has happened in France makes no difference to our actions and purpose.
We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of this high honour.
We shall defend our island home, and with the British Empire we shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted from the brows of mankind.
We are sure that in the end all will come right.
In a seven sentences Churchill faced up to the grave news, didn't try to diminish it, honored a fallen ally, assured it it would "rise again," invoked his people's honor, pride and history, reminded them they were defending their island homes, and, relying on a favorite expression he'd learned from the Boers when he fought in South Africa, gave confidence that 'in the end all will come right."
I wish you all a lovely weekend.