March 27, 2024

Finest Hour 198, SPECIAL ISSUE 2022

Page 18

By Justin Reash

Justin Reash is Executive Director of the International Churchill Society.

In the early hours of 24 February 2022, as missiles wreaked havoc on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, the world awoke to the first international European war since 1945. The outlook for Ukraine was bleak; the superior forces of the Russian army would soon overrun the country it had first invaded in 2014. The Ukrainian government would be toppled and the historic nation fully annexed by Putin.

Or so we thought.

Five months later, the International Churchill Society recognized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with its prestigious Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award. As it turns out, the Ukrainian government has not fallen; the nation remains unconquered.

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One day after the Russians invaded, the United States offered to exfiltrate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. His response? “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” With those words, President Zelenskyy catapulted from a potential president in exile to the leader of a courageous people vowing to defend their land, whatever the cost may be.

In his ascent to international fame and admiration, President Zelenskyy has routinely invoked Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War. “We will not surrender, we will not lose, we will go to the end,” he said to the House of Commons on 8 March 2022. It was in recognition of this “never give in” spirit that our society presented the President with the annual leadership award.

Churchill’s modern legacy, although deep and nuanced, can be simplified in one phrase he used to rally the British in the dark year of 1941: “never give in, never give in, never, never, never.”

We at ICS remind ourselves of this quote daily. We exist to encourage people in all walks of life never to give in, regardless of what obstacles they are facing. We point to Churchill’s courage, wit, warmth, and intelligence as tools to help those in adversity in their struggle to persevere. We seek to inspire the world through Churchill’s actions, words, and spirit.

We are constantly energized by the numerous messages we receive from people around the world, from Churchill experts or those first coming to know him, detailing how a single Churchill sentence or act has affected them in a profound way. Whether it be President Zelenskyy or poet Amanda Gorman, who studied Churchill’s speech structure to compose the poem she read at the inauguration of President Joseph Biden, Churchill continues to inspire in ways great and small. 

If you are moved by this mission, then may I ask you to support our organization by joining as a member or making a donation? Every penny makes a difference, since we are a nonprofit organization that relies solely on donations to fund our cause. To do this you can reach out to me personally at jreash@ or call me at 1–202–994–4744.

In the words of Churchill, now adopted by President Zelenskyy: “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job!”

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