“You ask, What is our policy? I will say; ‘It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.’ You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”
– Winston Churchill
Raise your hand if you got chills.
I was in an honors history class during my junior year of high school. (Did he say…honors??? You bet I did, impressed reader, and I escaped with a C+.) The big project in this class was our presentation at the end of the year. I don’t remember how long it had to be, but I remember it was hilariously too long. Members of the community came, watched, and helped grade our work. (This is Lexington, Massachusetts, where history is worn like a tricorn hat in the streets, and proclaimed with musket fire at the Battle Green every year.)
I chose Winston Churchill, and I can’t remember why (my mom had recently read a book about him). My thesis was that Winston Churchill was the reason that the Allies won World War Two. My teacher would later tell me that this would have been a good presentation if it was only about Winston Churchill, and that I didn’t prove my thesis, and that I got a C+ for the year. So there’s that.
For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief recap of how Churchill handled WWII:
- Hitler starts pushing people around in Europe: invading, killing, general atrocities.
- Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, is all, “let’s do this thing called appeasement, let’s meet with Hitler. So they do. And after the meeting, Hitler says, actually, I’m not going to do what I said. Chamberlain has an idea: we’ll drop leaflets on em’! And and and…and that’ll stop Hitler and we’ll all laugh about this in a year!”
- Churchill says, are you f-ing NUTS? “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.” This guy isn’t going to stop at the small countries. How long do you think we have? “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”
- Someone shouts out, remember Dardanelles!, referring to a huge failed attack that Churchill planned during WWI. So he’s not coming from the best track record, and he’s known for being aggressive.
- Churchill says, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
- Neville says, well, I dunno, I might, let’s see if, I can’t, but what if—and Churchill, the British Bulldog, says, “We (The British) have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”
*Drops microphone, Allies win the war, holds up two fingers in the shape of a V, for victory.*
Churchill stands up when everyone else is afraid, and he moves a nation to act by delivering speeches that follow his advice on speeches: “A speech should be like a lady’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” (That last line may have been where I went wrong in my honors presentation. The lady’s skirt was a maxi dress by the end. Without any seductive side-slits. (What, did you just google what are really long dresses called? Yes. Yes I did.)) Churchill also has a drinking problem and some other stuff going on, which leads me to my two favorite Winnie quotes:
A lady calls him drunk: “I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”
*Drops microphone, holds up two fingers for Victory. Walks out of room.*
Lady Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”
Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if I were your husband I’d drink it.”
*Drops microphone, V for Victory.*
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com