Month: January 2015

Churchill’s Funeral, 50 Years On

Churchill’s Funeral, 50 Years On

His words still call to us across the years.

St. Paul’s Cathe­dral, 30 Jan­u­ary 1965….

Any­one read­ing this knows where they were on 9/11/01. A dimin­ish­ing num­ber remem­ber where they were on 1/30/65—the day we said farewell to Win­ston Churchill.

For me it was a life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence. Sud­den­ly, unfor­get­tably, on my flick­er­ing black and white TV screen in Stat­en Island, N.Y., the huge void of England’s grand­est cathe­dral filled with The Bat­tle Hymn of the Repub­lic. He was, we were remind­ed, half-Amer­i­can, an hon­orary cit­i­zen by Act of Con­gress.

That day was the start of my 50-year career in search of Churchill—of what his great­est biog­ra­ph­er, Sir Mar­tin Gilbert, describes as “labour­ing in the vine­yard.”

After the funer­al I picked up The Gath­er­ing Storm, the first vol­ume of his World War II mem­oirs, and was snared by what Robert Pilpel called his “roast beef and pewter phras­es.” It’s biased, as Churchill admitted—“This is not his­to­ry; this is my case.” But it is ordered so as to put you at his side for the “great cli­mac­ter­ics” that made us what we are today.…

Read More Read More

Eagles are Silent…

Eagles are Silent…

“Very often the eagles have been squalled down by the par­rots.”   —Churchill, House of Com­mons, 18 Jan­u­ary 1945

“Winston’s Bag: He hunts lions and brings back cats.” David Low in The Star, Lon­don, 21 Jan­u­ary 1920.

Some sea­soned stu­dents of the man were of two minds about the Jan­u­ary 2015 Win­ston Churchill death cel­e­bra­tions: grat­i­fied that peo­ple still remem­ber; shock at the ill-con­sid­ered asser­tions.

Old Chestnuts

“The Ten Great­est Con­tro­ver­sies of Win­ston Churchill’s Career,” 22 Jan 15

This is such a rote per­for­mance, and sad­ly typ­i­cal. First, you tee up Churchill as the sav­ior of 1940.…

Read More Read More

Churchill Funeral vs March in Paris?

Churchill Funeral vs March in Paris?

Lon­don, 30 Jan­u­ary 1965.

An arti­cle in the Chris­t­ian Post equates Pres­i­dent Obama’s absence from the March in Paris with Pres­i­dent John­son skip­ping the 1965 Churchill Funer­al. The John­son sto­ry has gone around a lot late­ly, but it is nei­ther accu­rate nor a fair com­par­i­son.

Pres­i­dent John­son, suf­fer­ing from a bad case of flu, sent Chief Jus­tice Earl War­ren and Sec­re­tary of State Dean Rusk to the Churchill Funer­al. In his offi­cial state­ment John­son said: “When there was dark­ness in the world…a gen­er­ous Prov­i­dence gave us Win­ston Churchill….He is history’s child, and what he said and what he did will nev­er die.”

The ges­ture of respect that was Churchill’s long-rehearsed, metic­u­lous­ly planned funer­al does not real­ly com­pare to spon­ta­neous march of world lead­ers over the atroc­i­ties in Paris.…

Read More Read More