Today is not a holiday in Britain. Or in the U.S. Perhaps it ought to be. Its Winston Churchills birthday. Churchill was born into another world. A month or more premature, young Winston breathed his first in the splendid Blenheim Palace, the ducal home of his famous Marlborough ancestors.
As much at home among titled English aristocrats as he was, Churchill also became the great commoner. All his life he defended democracythe right of the people to govern themselves. And he boasted of his descent, on his American mothers side, from the Indian princess Pocahontas.
One of the first acts of the Obama administration was to toss the bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office. And as for any idea of a Special Relationship between the U.S. and Britain, there was none. The British were no different, as far as this White House was concerned, than any of the other 189 members of the UN.
Before the Waste Management truck comes to cart off what remains of the Special Relationship, it might be a good idea to recall what it was and why it was important.
Prior to 1939, there was still a great deal of hostility toward England and all things English in this country. Students in American high schools then learned a lot about our revolutionary struggles against the British monarchy. They probably also learned about some of the cruelties of our estranged mother country.
At the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, redcoats finally took the heights after a furious fight. Boston Patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren took part in that struggle. Act worthy of yourselves, Dr. Warren told his men, in words that Ronald Reagan would quote in his First Inaugural Address. Reagan would not remind Americans that the victorious redcoats presented Dr. Warrens head to their general as a trophy, in an act that marked them as savages.
Americans prior to World War II were taught that hundreds of our boys died during the revolution in rotting prison ships, stinking hulks tied to the docks of New York City. When our Continental soldiers tried to surrender to the redcoats on Long Island in 1776, Hessian mercenaries ran them through with their 17-inch bayonets. The heroic 21-year old Nathan Hale, convicted of spying in a drumhead court-martial, was even denied a chaplain to comfort his last moments on earth. It was Hale who, on the threshold of eternity, said: I only regret I have but one life to give for my country. His country was not England.
British troops conducted a campaign of rape and plunder across New Jersey in 1776. Their Hessian hirelings even stripped a Presbyterian army chaplain, forced him to his knees in the road, and killed him with thirteen stab wounds for the thirteen original states.
These are but a few of the storiesall documentedof British brutality against the American Patriots. Churchill knew all these stories. He knew our history better then than many of us know it now.
Churchill knew America better than any other British political leader of his day. He had traveled and lectured extensively in the U.S. He had many American friends. Almost alone among the leaders of the Conservative Party, Churchill actually liked Americans.
With the menace of Hitlers formidable Nazi war machine arising across the Channel, Churchill instantly comprehended that Britain must have a closer tie, a Special Relationship, with what he called the Great Republic.
As war clouds gathering over Britain, Churchill began a correspondence with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He signed his letters former naval person. In World War I, Churchill had been the leader of the Royal Navy, then the largest, most powerful in the world. He regularly informed FDR of events on the Continent and in Britain.
When Britain declared war on Germany following Hitlers unprovoked attack on Poland in 1939, Churchill returned to the government, once again leading the Royal Navy. Winston is Back was the jubilant message cabled to every one of His Majestys Ships around the world. After nine months of phony war in the west, Hitler smashed through Frances weakened defenses and Churchill was catapulted into the Prime Ministers office.
Instead of pathetically pleading for American help, as the hapless Premier of France had done when Hitlers panzer tanks overran his country, Churchill argued that only British courage and resolve would gain Americans respect. As Hitlers Luftwaffe rained down destruction on London, Churchill made sure the Nazi blitz was transmitted to American firesides by means of radio broadcasts. His stirring speeches to the British people were the lions roar of resistance to an unspeakable tyranny.
Churchill spoke unapologetically of protecting our hearths and our altars. Though no churchgoer himself, he readily acknowledged that Britains fight was a fight for Christian civilization.
Courageous himself, he inspired courage in others. And he warned of what would happen if they faltered:
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
Listen to the proposals of this administration, to all of its schemes to create human beings and then to use them for experiments. Then they will kill those very human beings before they can breathe free. To hear of these plots is to comprehend that phrase lights of perverted science.
Maybe thats why this administration doesnt like Winston Churchill. With all its bowing and reaching out to what it terms the Muslim world, where is the understanding we used to have of Western civilization? Where is the spirited defense of human rights against an ideology of slavery and murder?
Today, lets remember Churchills leadership and his eloquence. Lets be thankful that at such a time, America had such a friend.