December 2, 2023

US Speaker of the House Hosts Annual Birthday Commemoration

On November 30, the International Churchill Society sponsored events in Washington and London to mark the 149th birthday of Sir Winston Churchill. In Washington, the United States Speaker of the House hosted a reception in the US Capitol’s Statuary Hall. In London, flowers were placed by various members of the Churchill family at the foot of the statue in Parliament Square.

The Speaker’s Reception to honor Churchill’s birthday has become an annual tradition irrespective of party or office holder. This year Speaker Mike Johnson was joined at the podium by British Ambassador to the United States Dame Karen Pierce and International Churchill Society (ICS) Chairman Mitchell Reiss, who delivered the following remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, Dame Karen, Honorable Members of Congress, Foreign Dignitaries, Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Churchillians! Thank you for coming here this evening to honor the remarkable life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill, whose values of courage, determination, resilience, and magnanimity are as important today as they were during his lifetime. I would also like to thank the men and women in the Speaker’s Office who worked so hard to organize this gala occasion.”

Reiss then read out the following letter from ICS President Randolph Churchill, Sir Winston’s great-grandson, who was unable to attend in person:

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“I am very sorry not to join you today, but like you, I will be raising my glass to my great-grandfather Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill’s bust in Statuary Hall proclaims ‘Defender of Freedom.’ Since his death in 1965, we now face the most serious threat to our freedoms and liberties with the tyrant Putin seeking to re-establish a greater Russia in Ukraine. We salute the bravery of the Ukrainian people—they are an example to us all. We also face a most serious threat from Iran and Hamas in the Middle East. It is time for the Western Democracies to redouble our resolve to preserve our precious freedoms. While the United States and Great Britain march together, we must provide Ukraine and Israel with the ‘Tools to Finish the job.’ I am certain if we do so, we can preserve our freedoms and liberties.”

Reiss then added: “In times of crisis, Sir Winston understood the crucial importance of placing country above party.  During the Second World War, he presided over the greatest coalition in modern history, leading Conservatives, Labor and Liberals—as well as the British nation and free world—to victory. We can all be grateful that we do not face anything like the hostile world that Sir Winston faced during World War II. But we all know that we do face longstanding challenges, as well as some new threats, from around the world.

“Mr. Speaker, we look to you and other leaders in Washington for honesty, for clarity, for reassurance, and for a shared sense of national unity.  In other words, we look to you for those Churchillian qualities that illuminate the way forward in perilous times, and that we honor tonight.”

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