Monday, March 23, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 23, 2009

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

Fair warning: today’s post's source is the top of my head.

You know Churchill paid attention to details. Remember an earlier series post about the time just after he became PM when he ordered his motorcade to stop as it passed a very large, abandoned green house? Some of its glass panes were broken; but most were not.

Churchill directed the unbroken panes be stored where they could be easily retrieved. The UK's cities were surely going to be bombed soon. They'd be many shattered windows; replacement glass would be a much needed item.

Other details that always drew Churchill's attention included the names of military operations. When Churchill learned of the name of an operation he would sometimes immediately interrupt whoever was outlining the operation and ask why it had received the name it had. If he didn't think the name appropriate, he'd argue for a change. Sometimes he just ordered one.

One operation name Churchill thought very appropriate was Torch, the name for the joint Anglo-American invasion of North Africa in November, 1942. He suggested it himself.

Churchill said Torch was the best word and symbol to convey what the allies were doing: bringing the light of freedom to a Nazi dominated part of the world. He requested a logo with two hands holding up a torch; the hands represented British and American forces jointly pursuing the same objective.

Selecting Torch as the operation name was an inspired and inspiring choice.

Beyond what Churchill said in urging Torch as the operation's name, I wonder if he wasn't also thinking Torch would resonate with Americans whose Lady Liberty held a torch to light the way to freedom, and with the French whose eternal flame in Paris honors those who died defending France.

I can't be sure Churchill thought of Lady Liberty and Frances eternal flame but I suspect he did. Not much escapes a man who looks at a broken, abandoned greenhouse, and sees something very valuable.