Friday 29 July 2011

We Shall Never Surrender

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and with growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender."

(excerpt of Sir Winston Churchill's speech dated June 4, 1940)

I googled "The Greatest Speeches in History" and I found Sir Winston's Churchill's World War II speech to be voted number 1.  It was one of three famous speeches he delivered to inspire Britons during their darkest hour in the Spring of 1940, the other two being:  "Blood, Toil, Sweat and Tears" and "Their Finest Hour".  The British soldiers had just suffered defeat at the Battle of Dunkirk in France and needed inspiration.  The words of the speech are stirring and powerful, but the way that Churchill delivered it was equally important -- with complete confidence.  If you listen to the speech on Youtube, the Prime Minister starts the speech quietly and then builds the suspense to a powerful finale.  At no point does he yell; he just speaks evenly and smoothly and assuringly.  Contrast that with Adolf Hitler's staccato rants.  No wonder Britain and the Allies won the war. 

A veteran of World War I, he could put himself in the shoes of the soldiers on the battlefield.  He knew how to get his hands dirty.  In fact, he even considered landing with the Allied troops on the beach at Normandy in the D-Day invasion of June 1944, but had to be talked out of his decision by King George VI.  Churchill knew how to inspire the British people.

I heard someone say recently that inspiration literally means "God's breath".  I looked the word up online and discovered two related words "divine guidance".  I believe that it was divine guidance that led Churchill and Britain through the Second World War.  His speeches were a lifeline for his citizens.  It is remarkable that a man who suffered from a stutter when he was young went on to become one of the greatest orators of all time.

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