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Winston Churchill In Memoriam

Churchill Young.jpgWinston Churchill died on today’s date in 1965. It was a Saturday, and my parents had dragged me to one of our very occasional visits to Temple Emmanuel in Montreal. “Boring” was my usual description of the service, a feeling exacerbated by the discomfort of wearing a constricting coat and tie. I was seven years old.

At that point in my childhood, I well knew who Churchill was; the great speeches and the heroism of the Battle of Britain were first among my adventure stories growing up.

Or at least I thought that I knew him. But when Rabbi Stern appeared before the assembled adults and quietly announced that he had just heard the news from England that Prime Minister Winston Churchill had passed away that morning, I learned about something else. The hush that went over the congregation, and the sad murmurs all around me, held a depth of feeling that I had not previously encountered in my life. In a heartfelt way, the people in that room understood that Winston Churchill had been responsible for their salvation, that of their loved ones, and for all of civilization.

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