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Monday, January 24, 2005

In memory of Churchill

Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. He was, perhaps, the greatest man or woman of the 20th century. People like him scatter the pages of the history books, tantalising and mysterious. How, one wonders, will he be viewed in the distant future? Say the span of time between his life and that of King Alfred. I wonder how those future historians will consider these words, that resonate as powerfully today as they did when first they were spoken, on June 18th, 1940.

Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

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