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The Most Important Churchill Speech You've Never Heard: His Christmas Address to Congress Weeks After Pearl Harbor

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2023 3:03 am

The Most Important Churchill Speech You've Never Heard: His Christmas Address to Congress Weeks After Pearl Harbor

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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December 20, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, mere weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Prime Minister Winston Churchill made an all-important voyage to the United States to visit with President Roosevelt and to address Congress about the hard path before them.

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Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb

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That's hillsdale.edu. Winston Churchill made 16 visits to America in his lifetime. He traveled here as a soldier, a tourist, and a lecturer. But the late prime minister's visit to America in 1941 as a wartime leader was his most important. The story of that trip back in the winter of 1941 and the speech to Congress the day after Christmas is worth telling. It revealed a lot about not just Churchill's status as a statesman, but as a salesman. The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill, who just turned 67, packed his bags and headed for the United States.

It will be the most important sales trip of his life and perhaps the most important sale of the 20th century. As Dr. Larry Arnoff Hillsdale College said in his speech there, with the fall of France, Britain stood alone, decisively inferior in military power to the Nazis. The only thing that could save it was the English Channel, an entry into the war by the United States. No one understood that stark reality better than Churchill. It was why he was on a boat crossing the Atlantic so soon after one of America's darkest hours.

His plan strengthened relations with President Roosevelt, Congress, and the American public and prepare them for the exigencies of an extended and difficult war. It was a long trip of 10 days through cold storm-tossed seas. It was a dangerous one too. U-boats filled the Atlantic. There were serious concerns about Churchill's safety, but he was not deterred.

This was the work that could not be done on a phone. Churchill's boat docked in Norfolk, Virginia just two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He flew to National Airport in Washington D.C. where President Roosevelt himself greeted him. The two would bond over a few days of drinking and smoking while Churchill prepared his remarkable speech, which portions of which you're about to hear.

Here is how things started the day after Christmas in 1941. Here is then Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The fact that my American forebears have for so many generations played their part in the life of the United States, that here I am, an Englishman, welcomed in your midst, makes this experience one of the most moving and thrilling in my life, which is already long and has not been entirely uneventful.

I wish, I wish indeed that my mother, whose memory I cherish across the veil of years, could have been here to see. And Churchill's mother, of course, born in Brooklyn. Churchill then made clear that our countries were connected by much more than a common language. I may confess, however, that I do not feel quite like a fish out of water in a legislative assembly where English is spoken. I'm a child of the House of Commons. I was brought up in my father's house to believe in democracy, trust the people.

Therefore, I have been in full harmony all my life with the tides which have flowed on both sides of the Atlantic against privilege and monopoly. And I have steered confidently towards the Gettysburg ideal of government of the people by the people for the people. He then addressed our very best angels more certain about the true character of America than many of our own leaders today. The United States have been attacked and set upon by three most powerfully armed dictator states, the greatest military power in Europe, the greatest military power in Asia.

Japan, Germany, and Italy have all declared and are making war upon you. And a quarrel is open which can only end in their overthrow or yours. But here in Washington, in these memorable days, I have found an Olympian fortitude which far from being based upon complacency is only the mask of an inflexible purpose and the proof of a sure, well-grounded confidence in the final outcome. The speech then took a tough turn as Churchill walked Congress and the American people through the difficulties of the task ahead and the nature of our enemies, calling them wicked men that will stop at nothing that violence or treachery can suggest. Churchill then spoke of the rough path forward and invoked scripture to close this part of the speech. No one knew better than Churchill that there was a great spiritual battle ahead. Some people may be startled or momentarily depressed when, like your president, I speak of a long and hard war.

Our peoples would rather know the truth, somber though it be. And after all, when we are doing the noblest work in the world, not only defending our hearts and homes, but the cause of freedom in every land, the question of whether deliverance comes in 1942 or 1943 or 1984, falls into its proper place in the grand proportions of human history. Sure I am that this day now we are the masters of our faith, that the task which has been set us is not above our strength, that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause and an unconquerable will power, salvation will not be denied us. Churchill closed out his speech to the American people by invoking the spiritual dimension of the battle one last time and the common values the two great allies, England and America, shared. If you will allow me to use other language, I will say that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.

It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American people will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together in majesty, in justice and in justice. Churchill responded to the roaring crowd by flashing the V for Victory sign that would become his signature gesture. On New Year's Day, Roosevelt and Churchill visited nearby Mount Vernon to lay a wreath on the tomb of our nation's first president and one of our greatest warriors, George Washington. On January 1st, Roosevelt and Churchill visited Mount Vernon to lay a wreath on the tomb of our nation's first president and one of our greatest warriors, George Washington. On January 14th, 1942, after nearly a month away from home, Churchill left for war-torn London with one of his greatest victories. The late Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert was at Hillsdale College in 2006 and said these words, it would take the new world, the United States, to rescue the old and emerge as the defenders of freedom. The story of Churchill's 1941 Christmastime speech is always brought to us by the folks at Hillsdale College.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 04:26:05 / 2023-12-20 04:30:42 / 5

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