Winston Churchill on American Thanksgiving, 1944

Winston Churchill on American Thanksgiving, 1944

1621:

“Our har­vest being got­ten in, our gov­er­nor sent four men on fowl­ing, that so we might after have a spe­cial man­ner rejoice togeth­er after we had gath­ered the fruit of our labors…many of the Indi­ans com­ing amongst us, and among the rest their great­est King Mas­sas­oit, with some nine­ty men, whom for three days we enter­tained and feast­ed, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plan­ta­tion and bestowed on our gov­er­nor, and upon the cap­tain, and oth­ers.”  —Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Rela­tion: A Rela­tion or Jour­nal of the Begin­ning and Pro­ceed­ings of the Eng­lish Plan­ta­tion Set­tled at Plimoth in New Eng­land, 1621.

1944:

“Thanks­giv­ing Day”: Win­ston S. Churchill at the Roy­al Albert Hall con­cert in cel­e­bra­tion of Amer­i­can Thanks­giv­ing, 1944. Repro­duced from Mar­tin Gilbert & Lar­ry P. Arnn, eds., The Churchill Doc­u­ments, Vol. 20, Nor­mandy and Beyond, May-Decem­ber 1944Hills­dale Col­lege Press, 2018, pp. 1988-89. For the audio, please click here.

“Your Day of Thanksgiving”

We have come here tonight to add our cel­e­bra­tion to those which are going for­ward all over the world wher­ev­er Allied troops are fight­ing, in bivouacs and dug-outs, on bat­tle­fields, on the high seas, and in the high­est air. Always this annu­al fes­ti­val has been dear to the hearts of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Always there has been that desire for thanks­giv­ing, and nev­er, I think, has there been more jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, more com­pul­sive need than now.

It is your Day of Thanks­giv­ing, and when we feel the truth of the facts which are before us, that in three or four years the peace­ful peace-lov­ing peo­ple of the Unit­ed States, with all the vari­ety and free­dom of their life in such con­trast to the iron dis­ci­pline which has gov­erned many oth­er communities—when we see that in three or four years the Unit­ed States has in sober fact become the great­est mil­i­tary, naval, and air pow­er in the world—that, I say to you in this time of war, is itself a sub­ject for pro­found thanksgiving.

We are mov­ing for­ward in this strug­gle which spreads over all the lands and all the oceans. We are mov­ing for­ward sure­ly, steadi­ly, irre­sistibly, and per­haps, with God’s aid, swift­ly, towards vic­to­ri­ous peace. There again is a fit­ting rea­son for thanksgiving.

“A lasting union…”

Lincoln
Albert Hall, 23 Novem­ber 1944. (Hills­dale Col­lege Press)

I have spo­ken of Amer­i­can Thanks­giv­ing. Tonight here, rep­re­sent­ing vaster audi­ences and greater forces mov­ing out­side this hall, it is both British and Amer­i­can thanks­giv­ing that we may cel­e­brate. And why is that? It is because under the com­pul­sion of mys­te­ri­ous and all-pow­er­ful des­tiny we are togeth­er. We are joined togeth­er, shed­ding our blood side by side, strug­gling for the same ideals, until the tri­umph of the great caus­es which we serve shall have been made manifest.

But there is a greater Thanks­giv­ing Day which still shines ahead, which beck­ons the bold and loy­al and warm-heart­ed. And that is when this union of action which has been forced upon us by our com­mon hatred of tyran­ny, which we have main­tained dur­ing these dark and fear­ful days, shall become a last­ing union of sym­pa­thy and good-feel­ing and loy­al­ty and hope between all the British and Amer­i­can peo­ples, wher­ev­er they may dwell. Then, indeed, there will be a Day of Thanks­giv­ing, and one in which all the world will share. —Win­ston S. Churchill

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