“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1874-1965
Last we left Mr. Churchill, he was fresh from his adventure in the Boer War and became something of a celebrity back in England. As so often happens with returning soldiers, Churchill used his fame and positive press to run for a seat in Parliament. Through the first decade of the 20th century, he rose through the ranks of the British Parliament and continued his work as a historian. His next writing project must have been a watershed moment in his life. He began a biography of his father. Churchill never understood his father; his father died ashamed of Winston for his perceived failures in school and the public eye. It was a relationship that many men can understand, but it was also Winston’s opportunity to discover his father, and maybe understand the enigma that haunted him so often in life.
Something to Prove
Isn’t Winston’s dilemma real for so many men? We grow up and never understand our fathers until the passage of time gives us the ability to begin to understand truly. Winston’s writing was applauded by book reviewers, and he soon received an assignment as the First Lord of the Admiralty, immediately moving to upgrade the British fleet from coal-burning engines. Luckily for Britain, Churchill’s improvements came at the perfect time because, by 1914, Europe was at war. “The Great War” broke millions of people, including Winston Spencer Churchill. It was the turning point in his life. In early 1915, Churchill developed an audacious plan to attack the Ottoman Empire’s stronghold at Gallipoli along the Dardanelle Straight where Europe and Asia meet. The attack at the Dardanelles was a disaster and Churchill was the scapegoat. With his legacy tarnished, his political career was ruined, and he was fired as the First Lord of the Admiralty.
Churchill was lost and felt it all slipping away, but he showed true grit and determination in his next decision. Churchill felt responsible for the ills facing the British Army, and he decided to volunteer for service on the Western Front. The military service was also a savvy political move; he knew that the best way to regain some prestige would be to serve in the military. Churchill’s service was of little note on the Western Front, but it had the desired political effect, as he was once again accepted in England as a man of honor and determination, and after the end of the First World War, spent the next two decades rebuilding his prestige and reputation.
Rise of the Nazi
As the war drums began to beat once again in the 1930’s, the British policy under the cowardly and spineless Neville Chamberlain, was appeasement, which was mainly to give in to all of Hitler’s demands and hope nothing terrible happens. Of course, Hitler saw Chamberlain as the weak leader he was and took anything and everything he wanted in eastern and middle Europe. Churchill was one of the most open and vehement opponents of Chamberlain and the entire idea of appeasement. For some time, Churchill was an outsider, derided for his opposition stance. But, in true manly fashion, Churchill stood up for what he believed in and continued to attempt to prepare Britain for the coming onslaught. On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland and, finally, Britain and France declared war on Germany. The British government saw that Chamberlain was the worst possible wartime leader, and the British people turned to his outspoken opponent, Churchill, as the new Prime Minister.
Churchill took office in 1940; possibly the most dangerous time in Britain’s history. Very soon after assuming the Prime Ministership, the Germans began routine bombings over England in an attempt to soften up the British defenses for Hitler’s proposed “Operation Sea Lion.” Churchill showed his mettle from the onset, giving famous speech after speech, leading the British people from the front. He told the British people over the BBC that, “I have nothing to promise you but blood, toil, sweat, and tears.” Following up that with a promise to Hitler that the British people would fight them “on the beaches, in the air, etc.” It was Churchill’s resolve that helped prepare the British people for the horrors to come; night after night, entire neighborhoods would come under attack from the German bombs, and on most mornings Churchill could be seen walking through the bombed-out remains, talking to his people and telling them to fight on.
True to his word, Churchill led the British people, and the free world for that matter, against the onslaught of Nazi tyranny. Churchill used his manliness to destroy evil, and quite literally, to save Western Civilization.