Fifty-Four years ago today, January 24, 1965, the greatest man of the 20th century, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill passed away quietly in his home in Hyde Park. Coincidently it was the same date, January 24 that his father died in 1895.
Churchill had been in declining health for several years; the final blow came in the form of a massive stroke on January 10th. Churchill lay in a coma for 14 days. He died peacefully with his son Randolph, daughters, Sarah and Mary, and of course his loving wife of 56 years, his darling Clementine were at his side.
Churchill held nearly every high post in the British government. He survived fighting in 5 wars. Four of which were before he was 26 years old. Churchill had a dozen close brushes with death. He changed political parties twice and found himself on the wrong side of women’s suffrage, Indian independence, the Abdication crisis, the gold standard and many other issues of the day. One of the things that I admire about him is that although Churchill made many mistakes, he learned something from every single one. The lessons he learned made him the only man brave enough to warn of the Nazi menace throughout the 1930s and uniquely qualified to lead the free world to victory.
I am asked time and time again, “Why Churchill? Why do you like him so much?” It is a question that I simply answer by quoting something he quipped to his wife “If it not for failure, I may have never accomplished anything.” Then I follow with, “Churchill went from failure to failure and then he saved the free world!”
Churchill described his politics as being a “Tory Democrat.” He felt he was put on this earth to defend the British empire, but at the same time, he tried to take care of the common man, introducing welfare, health insurance, unemployment insurance, and help for widows. Churchill was liberal in the true sense of the word, and a conservative when it came to the defense of England, the United Kingdom, and the empire.
Andrew Roberts in his brilliant newly released biography writes while quoting Churchill: “Man is spirit,” Churchill told the ministers of His Government before his resignation in April 1955. What he meant was that, given spirit – by which he meant the dash, intelligence, hard work, persistence, immense physical and moral courage and above all iron willpower that he himself had exhibited in his lifetime – it is possible to succeed despite material restraints.”
At a time when Hitler had nearly conquered all of western Europe, Churchill’s greatest success as Andrew Roberts points out was not that Churchill stopped the invasion of the United Kingdom in 1940 but that he “stopped the British Government from making peace.” Churchill saved Liberty.
I am so thankful that Sir Winston Spencer Churchill was there when we needed him most.
We need you again Winston. Where are you?
Churchill Walking with Destiny, Andrew Roberts, Page 981, Viking Press. 2018
Winston S. Churchill Volume VIII Never Despair 1945-1965 – Sir Martin Gilbert, Page 1359, Hilldale College Press. New Edition