Tired, confident, and jubilant, Prime Minister Winston Churchill sat at his place in the cabinet room at Number 10 Downing street. Steadying himself, Winston announced to the British people and the Empire that the war in Europe was over. The Germans unconditionally surrendered. May 8th would be VE day – Victory in Europe! After a short period of celebration all military operations would refocus to the pacific and the eventual defeat of the Empire of Japan.
Adolf Hitler, sick with watching his Third Reich crushed, and with the Soviet Union bearing down on Berlin, killed himself a few days before on April 30th. Der Fuhrer, the man who had sights on populating the world with his master race, took the easy way out.
This moment in time, this grand moment in the history of the victory for freedom was an accumulation of the greatest generation who heard the call and traveled halfway around the world for the sake of freedom and liberty. It was the Courage of the British people, rallied by Churchill, across their empire and the might of the Americans who defended freedom against a madman the likes that had not been seen for centuries.
Let’s also not forget the thousands of resistance fighters across Europe who risked their lives and the lives of their families to live free again.
According to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, listed are the death toll of the major combatants:
Germany 5,500,000 2,000,000
Italy 301,000 460,000
Japan 2,000,000 700,000
United States 420,000 12,000
Great Britain 385,000 67,000
France 220,000 390,000
Soviet Union 9,000,000 7,000,000
Think about it – In total, all Allied and Axis forces combined with Civilians – 70,000,000 people lost their lives in World War II.
We must not forget the murder of 6 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters at the hands of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of the Nazi rule.
Churchill was the lion of the 20th Century. Many said that his greatest contribution to the War was that he did not lose it. He hung on until help arrived. Churchill and Britain were not like the weary boxer, leaning in the corner of the ring, with his gloves covering his face. No! that was never Churchill’s style, the British took to the air defended their island home! They did their best to attack the Germans whenever they could.
When Goering and the Luftwaffe could not put the British on bended knee, the Nazi’s turned east. The victory of the Battle of Britain, won by “The Few,” as Churchill said in a speech honoring the men of the Spitfires and Hurricanes, was the turning point of the war.
Everyday our freedoms and liberties are being challenged. Ronald Reagan said in a speech that the loss of freedom is only one generation away. He was right.
On May 8th, please take a moment and raise your glass, filled with your favorite beverage, and give thanks to that greatest of generations and to Sir Winston Churchill who roared like a lion defending the cause of freedom.
“Long live the cause of freedom…” – Winston Churchill