Churchill Tribute

Lead out the pageant: sad and slow, 
As fits an universal woe, 
Let the long long procession go,        
And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow, 
And let the mournful martial music blow; 
The last great Englishman is low.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson



Something for the weekend.  I Vow to Thee My Country set to scenes from the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill on January 30, 1965.  Hard to think that half a century now separates us from that sad event.  Churchill planned his own funeral and he made certain that all the great old hymns he so loved were well represented in the ceremonies.  When he was asked if he was a pillar of the church, Churchill, whose attendance at services was sparse, said he was a flying buttress of the church, supporting it from outside.   His beliefs about God were ambiguous, with contrary statements about religion being made about God and religion in the course of his life.  I think that like many of his European generation coming of age in the late nineteenth century that he initially embraced agnosticism.  Then, in battle he noticed that he was always praying for assistance, whatever his head thinking his heart obviously still believing in God!   As he grew older I think a belief in God began to grow in him as he became acutely aware during his very long life of the mysteries of life and death.  He sometimes spoke enviously of those who had religious faith untroubled with doubt, and perhaps at the end he joined their ranks. In a striking part of the funeral, two buglers played:  the first one Taps and the second one Reveille, a symbol of the Resurrection.

The greatest man in secular history of the last century,  Churchill wrenched the course of history and ensured that Hitler’s talk of a Thousand Year Reich would be remembered as a tyrant’s empty boast and not the beginning of a waking nightmare for all mankind.  Politicians are always with us, as ubiquitous as fleas on a dog and often about as useful.  A statesman like Churchill, who can see beyond present turmoil and disaster and point the way forward, is rare and precious indeed.  On V-E day in Great Britain Churchill was hailed as the man who won the war.  Churchill denied this and said that the victory belonged to the British people and it had merely been his privilege to give voice to the roar of the British lion.  He was then promptly tossed out by the British people at the general election, his task completed.  He would once again become prime minister in 1951, but it was anti-climactic, a mere epilogue to his career.  His great moment had been when he sustained British morale and kept his nation in the fight against Nazi Germany at a time when victory seemed hopeless and even mere survival doubtful, and thus gave his people their finest hour.


For that he deserves to be remembered and honored, and not just by the British, but by all free men and women everywhere.


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  1. I rank Reagan with Churchill as the greatest men in secular history of the 20th century, but that in no way diminishes Churchill and his accomplishments.

  2. I would hope and pray that providence would supply the statesmen and commander’s needed to defend our homeland if a third world war broke out.
    Hope and prayers would most definitely be needed due to our lack of Christianity in many of our gov’t. institutions and immoral laws that prevail in a once prevalent nation under God.

    We will reap what we sow…a nation that believes in the freedom to worship many God’s…even Satan himself. Ask the Bishop of Anchorage AK. how the attacks on the Dominican Fathers and friars are going,…and let’s not forget the recent arson on the premises.

    God help us. Please.

  3. As I recall, early in his first term President Obama returned to the British
    government the bust of Winston Churchill which had been displayed in the oval
    office through the Bush presidency.

  4. Currently reading the Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940 by William Manchester. It is a companion volume to the first volume that is a biography of sorts of Churchill’s earlier years. Good stuff! Makes my heart pound just reading it!

  5. I must confess to finding Chuchill’s deadly accurate description of another great statesman, Charles de Gaulle, rather amusing – “He looks like a female llama who has just been surprised in her bath.”

  6. Also worth noting that Churchill, having been born in 1874, was in his late 60s when he led Britain through WWII and 70 when he left office as PM. Goes to show that you don’t have to be young to be heroic….

  7. I was interested to learn Churchill and his family estate were deep in debt before the war. One named Natty Rothchild worked out a deal with him to forgive some of the total debt, … in return for what I wonder.

  8. Rick

    “Churchill and his family estate were deep in debt.”

    What “family estate”? Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill was the 3rd son of the 7th Duke of Marleborough. His cousin Charles, the 9th Duke married the enormously wealthy Consuelo Vanderbilt.

  9. Although just about eight weeks short of my fifth birthday, I recall being perplexed by Churchill being thrown over for Attlee after all he did for his country. Not that I was all that precocious but that it was such a glaring example of ingratitude that even a child could see it.

  10. Yes he was very impressive! …an artist with line and paint as well as with words.
    A lover of justice, but still- did his patriotism stop him making more headway in the pursuit of justice for the Irish and (even though he was very young) the Armenians. A great man for England and for her allies.

  11. Actually Anzlyne he fought vigorously against the Irish Nationalists, but also was instrumental in hammering out the peace treaty which ended the war and recognized the independence of the Irish Free State. He and Michael Collins became the most unlikely of allies during this process and gained a grudging respect for each other as a result.

    Great Britain was at War against Turkey at the time of the Armenian massacres and lacked the power to help the Armenians. Here is Churchill’s description of what happened to the Armenians after World War I:

    “On March 12, 1920, the Supreme Council offered the mandate to the League of Nations. But the League, unsupported by men or money, promptly and with prudence declined. There remained the Treaty of Sèvres. On August 10 the Powers compelled the Constantinople Government to recognize an as yet undetermined Armenia as a free and independent State. Article 89 prescribed that Turkey must submit to ‘the arbitration of the President of the United States of America the question of the frontier to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzeroum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, and to accept his decision thereupon, as well as any stipulation he may prescribe as to access of Armenia to the sea.’ It was not until December 1920 that President Wilson completed the discharge of this high function. The frontier he defined gave Armenia virtually all the Turkish territory which had been occupied by Russian troops until they disbanded themselves under the influence of the Revolution; and era which, added to the Republic of Erivan, made an Armenian national homeland of nearly sixty thousand square miles.
    So generous was the recognition in theory of Armenian claims that the Armenian and Greek population of the new State was actually outnumbered by Moslem inhabitants. Here was justice and much more. It existed however upon paper only. Already nearly a year before, in January 1920, the Turks had attacked the French in Cilicia, driven them out of the Marash district and massacred nearly fifty thousand Armenian inhabitants. In May Bolshevik troops invaded and subjugated the Republic of Erivan. In September, by collusion between the Bolsheviks and Turks, Erivan was delivered to the Turkish Nationalists; and as in Cilicia, another extensive massacre of Armenians accompanied the military operations. Even the hope that a small autonomous Armenian province might eventually be established in Cilicia under French protection was destroyed. In October France, by the Agreement of Angora, undertook to evacuate Cilicia completely. In the Treaty of Lausanne, which registered the final peace between Turkey and the Great Powers, history will search in vain for the word « Armenia ».” (Winston Churchill , The World Crisis, vol. 5, « The Aftermath » 1929).

  12. From 1915 through 1922, as few as 1.2 to as many as 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in Turkey. A century later, we see the same horror beginning in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is conducting the first genocide of the Twenty First Century. We stand by and watch.

  13. Yes I remember that Michael Collins thought highly of him. I do appreciate Churchill, but my heart still breaks! As I read the history it seems that good well intentioned people plainly got tired of the continuous struggle. Some of that magnificent bulldog like tenacity to solve the problems could have been helpful.
    If Winston Churchill could’ve would’ve made the decision for the Faith personally, how might the flow of history right up through the 60’s and 70’s have been altered.
    Even in the statement you quote above, about Armenia, there seems an undercurrent of dithering that I think comes from not having the understaning of the difference between Christianity and Islam…wanting to treat these apples and oranges ( or more distinct :apples and croquet balls) as equal- is a huge mistake that still is stopping the Great Powers from decisive action for the side of Good. First you have to be able to see the difference.

  14. Oh, Churchill understood Islam, and from quite a young age:

    “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

    Winston Churchill, The River War, 1899

  15. Yes he did! my attempt at a point was about the great man not bringing himself to real knowledge and acceptance of the Faith. Perhaps his misunderstanding of Catholicism’s relationship with science contributed to his reluctance…. “the science against which it had vainly struggled ”
    Donald McClarey you are a great blessing to me and to all of us who regularly learn so much at this blog. Like you, I am inspired by Winston Churchill– my comment was just a little “yeah,but” which I admit to be too audacious coming from a person so far out of the realm of Churchill’s global impact.

  16. “it was such a glaring example of ingratitude that even a child could see it.”

    Is it possible that Churchill’s defeat in 1945 was not so much due to ingratitude as simply a desire (albeit misguided) on the part of the British people to put the war behind them and start fresh?

  17. The Conservatives had been in power for a very long time. I would have been surprised if they had won the election. I would note that Labor did not retain power long, but long enough to fasten on to Britain socialist apparatus that had a debilitating impact on the UK until Thatcher.

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