Winston Churchill: British Prime Minister, writer and military man. His name is one of the most well-known in the United Kingdom and remains immensely popular not only throughout England, but around the world. He was undoubtedly a controversial figure, but remains one of the most well-regarded Prime Ministers in British history according to several polls.
Awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature, Churchill had quite the way with words. His inspirational speeches and rousing words have been printed and reprinted in the decades since. Of course, his famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech has been repeated over and over, spoken during WWII as the walls seemed to be closing in — the Germans were winning victory after victory that summer of 1940; when hope seemed to be disintegrating before them, he said:
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
Earlier in May he had inspired the people:
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.”
When the United States joined the war, Churchill said, “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.” This is a quote embodying personal responsibility. He realizes the reality of the situation — they don’t have the “tools” necessary to complete the job, and while that was a reality he does not paint himself or the UK as a victim. In a practical manner, he asks the U.S. for help and shoulders the responsibility to “finish the job.” This simple, strong rhetoric is rare among politicians.
He expressed his gratitude to the fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain, fought entirely in the skies: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Literally speaking, this is an immeasurable thing, but the quote illustrates his deep respect and understanding of the sacrifice given by a younger generation, fighting tooth and nail for those below.
Some other notable quotes from cigar chomping Winston Churchill, as not all of his writing and speeches were in dire times of war:
- “Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.”
- “The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”
- “Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”
- “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because, as has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
- “What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?”
And to finish, a final one perhaps more relevant today than ever: “We shall not be judged by the criticisms of our opponents, but by the consequences of our acts.”
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.