July 20, 2013



I continue to be amazed at the high level of interest in Winston Churchill. Almost without exception, mere mention of his . name brings a positive response, often with noticeable enthusiasm. School teachers, stockbrokers, writers, lawyers, academicians, politicians, captains of industry, cab drivers, public servants, doctors, clergymen, business executives, athletes, and more: in one way or another, at one time or another, Churchill has touched them all.

Examples are endless. We know of the Churchill bust that sits in the Oval Office at the White House. We know of the intense scramble for Churchill quotations in the aftermath of 9/11. Three of four outside speakers at one of my clients’ recent conventions quoted (or thought they were quoting) Winston Spencer Churchill. (All three left with Churchill Centre membership applications.) A London cabbie responded to my expressed interest in Churchill as we sped toward the Cabinet War Rooms by opining that “He was a remarkable old bastard.” I quickly agreed that he was indeed remarkable. Last year popular demand persuaded the University of North Carolina twice to repeat a Churchill program offered as part of the University’s longstanding weekend seminar series. “Threepeats” of any program are unprecedented.

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Marcus Frost, one of our newest CC Associates and a most generous supporter of our work, perhaps put it best when he wrote: “Every now and then I get upset and patriotic over world events, and I bang out something on the computer while it is still weighing heavily on my heart—and it always has a Churchillian twist to it.”

Why is this interest in someone who died nearly forty years ago so all-pervading and so positive? No doubt there are as many answers as there are those providing them. Many are cliche-ridden generalities. Some merely parrot the conclusions by respected scholars about Churchill and his place in history. Other explanations include pithy and often colorful reflections of latent emotions. And some are highly personal though less than profound: “I’m so pleased that a short, chubby, cigar-chomping, aging white man like me is a legend.”

Perhaps one reason is that Churchill and his career personify certain important standards in an age where standards have been marginalized—where many contend that anything goes, that the buck stops somewhere else. Churchill’s standards of inspiring and colorful prose, of perseverance when surrounded by adversity, of prodigious work both literary and governmental, of devotion to the principles of liberty, and, most of all, of courageous leadership, are there for all to see and to follow if they choose. Anecdotal evidence suggests that more are doing just that. For this, Winston Churchill should receive his fair share of the credit.

For whatever reason, Churchill and all he stands for are embedded in the memories and psyche of a very large number of people, many of them born since he died. It is the responsibility of The Churchill Centre—and all Churchillians—to recognize and stimulate the emergence of this real but often latent interest in Churchill, and to mobilize it for the benefit of all during our current time of troubles. 


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