PRESIDENT’S LETTER: FINEST HOUR 130, SPRING 2006
CONGRATULATIONS all round, from “the husband of the singer” to everyone who contributed, in front of and behind the scenes, to the Twenty-Second International Churchll Conference in Quebec City.
Another International Churchill Conference is history, and we who attended were surrounded by it. The superb Quebec City setting, the venerable Hotel Frontenac, and the panel presentations and speeches dealing with the monumental events of 1943 and 1944 Quebec meetings, “Quadrant” and “Octagon,” combined for another memorable Churchill conference. Post-conference comments and reactions of the attendees amply attest to its success, which could not have been achieved without the tireless efforts of the team from ICS/Canada, the member volunteers who registered and otherwise looked after our members and guests, and, of course, The Churchill Centre’s staff in Washington and its editor in New Hampshire. Even the weather cooperated when required, although there was some serious disagreement as to who should receive the credit.
It is always risky to single out anyone for special mention when so many did so much. Not being risk averse, let me mention Lady Soames and Solveig Barber as two participants who added dashes of lively color to the typically more subdued demeanors associated with most of us at these events. Our Patron’s energetic participation in all aspects of this event, from the seven-hour pre-conference Board of Governors meeting and the lengthy dinner that followed it, to the departure brunch on Sunday, underscores once again how much The Churchill Centre relies on her active patronage. And Solveig didn’t just beautifully sing the National Anthems, and other period pieces, as she has done at past conferences. Attired in a World War II uniform, she read with personality and verve a most interesting letter home, written by a secretarial participant in the 1943 Quebec Conference. Additionally, she found time to record beautiful renditions of songs from yesteryear, and to have them for sale at the Conference to benefit the Centre.
The ambience, fellowship and intellectual stimulation so evident at this 22nd annual Conference is what The Churchill Centre’s members and frequent attendees have come to expect. And rightly so. Our gatherings have long been one of the cornerstones of the worldwide Churchill community, and shall remain so. Electronic communication, I must ruefully admit, has its place. But the warm embrace, the firm handshake, the wry smile, the twinkle in the eye of a jokester, the candor encouraged by unhurried conversation, and the taste of a good port blanketed in rich cigar smoke simply cannot be communicated through cyberspace; but they all can be experienced at our annual conferences.
Detailed planning for the 2006 Chicago Conference and the 2007 Vancouver Conference is well advanced. Thereafter, The Centre’s annual conferences will be held in New England, Great Britain, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Ottawa in that order. For those of you who have never attended one of our conferences, may I suggest you do yourself (and your spouse) a real favor by doing so? I have known legions of attendees who praise them, and have never known anyone who regretted coming.
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