June 5, 2013

Finest Hour 143, Summer 2009

Page 27

Remembering Jack

I have three abiding memories of Jack Kemp. The first was his visit to the Churchill Archives Centre, when he stood in the middle of our reading rooms, a bust of Sir Winston at his back, and insisted not just on reading but on declaiming one of the great wartime speeches from Churchill’s original speaking notes, at full volume, with full emphasis, as if delivering it to an election rally: one master orator paying tribute to another.

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My second memory is walking with him to the reception after the commissioning of USS Winston S. Churchill, watching him engage in lively banter with the crowd, with a natural ease and without airs or security.

But my most important memory is of the meeting I had with him in his office in Washington, D.C. I thought it was a courtesy call and I briefed him on the reason for my trip, and the fact that I was having meetings with key staff at the Library of Congress to discuss a possible Churchill exhibition. I had underestimated his interest and his networks, for on the back of my brief visit he picked up the phone to his friend, Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress. Suddenly doors began to open. The exhibition that followed in 2004 might never have happened without this crucial political intervention.
—Allen Packwood, Director, Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge

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