January 24, 2015 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of one of the great heroes of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill.
In a lovely Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, his granddaughter Celia Sandys describes his last days and his grand state funeral, the first for a commoner since the Duke of Wellington.
On the day of the funeral we gathered in Westminster Hall for the journey to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The men of the family together with Anthony Montague Browne, who had served his master faithfully and lovingly to the end, walked behind the coffin, which was borne on a gun carriage.
The women rode in the queen’s carriages. My grandmother, Sarah, and Mary were in the first carriage. My sister Edwina and I rode in the second. We had rugs and hot-water bottles to keep us warm on a very cold day. We were so close to the crowds lining the streets that we could have touched them. The emotion in their faces I will never forget.
I am a huge fan of Churchill. The offspring of an American mother and British aristocrat, he had the pugnaciousness to make big mistakes (Gallipoli being one) and the resilience to bounce back. Most amazing was his single-minded determination to resist tyranny and face down the monster that was Nazi Germany. His leadership helped stiffen the spines of all free peoples.
On a more personal level, I’m amazed at a man who smoke and drank (excessively) and still lived to be ninety, a man who put aside his bouts of depression to take on great tasks, and a man with a terrific sense of humor. He was also a prolific author and a Nobel Laureate in literature.
An email came across my desk with what are purported to be some of Churchill’s paraprosdokians. This form of speech is a humorous two-liner, where the second line provides a twist and a punch:
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.
If you are going through hell, keep going.
It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.
There are more here, including some by such other greats as Groucho Marx and Will Rogers.
I hope I haven’t offended any Churchill fans out there by the use of the term “Winnie-phile”. I don’t think a man who would entertain the President of the United States from his bathtub would mind.
For a wonderful pictorial history of the great man, check out this post in the International Business Times.
What about you? Are you a fan of Churchill?