Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Churchill Series - Christmas Eve, 2008

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

Shortly after Pearl Harbor Churchill sailed for America to meet with President Roosevelt. After a stormy crossing he arrived in Hampton Roads, VA from where he and some of his party fly on to Washington while the rest of his party traveled there by land.

Churchill arrived Dec. 22, 1941 at Washington’s National Airport (now Reagan) where he was greeted by President Roosevelt. Roosevelt and Churchill, together with their staffs, would in the following days and weeks engage in intense, complicated and critical war planning.

But the two leaders would also take some time for Christmas.

In the 1940s, in an event broadcast nationally by radio, the White House Christmas tree was lit by the President on Christmas Eve. Churchill was staying at the White House and so was there late on the afternoon of Dec. 24 as Roosevelt prepared to make to make some brief remarks to the nation and light the tree.

Roosevelt invited Churchill to join him on the White House’s South Portico where the ceremony would take place. He also invited Churchill to say a few words, which Churchill readily agreed to do.

This link will take you to a photo of Roosevelt standing before the microphones with Churchill standing to his right and rear at a column base. I don’t know who the third man in the photo is but assume he’s a technician.

According to the White House Historical Association following Roosevelt's remarks, Churchill said:

"Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied the right to live in a free and decent world."
FDR then lit the tree and the two leaders led the crowd assembled on the South Lawn in the singing of carols.

The photo and Churchill's words are part of a site the White House Historical Association has put together. It has many photos (some color) of Presidents and their families centered on Christmas themes. I hope you enjoy looking around the site.

And I wish all of you blessings this day.



Jim in San Diego said...

German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" who led the German Confederation near the end of the 19th century, is quoted as saying,

"The most significant event
of the twentieh century will
be the fact the Americans
speak English"

The White House Christmas; joint religious services on the deck of the cruiser Augusta; Churchill's speech to Congress; the extraordinary level of communications within the Anglo-American joint military command - proved him right.

Thank goodness.

Jim Peterson