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We Shall Never Surrender

Churchill Statue.jpgThe great man’s memorial sculpture on Paris’ avenue Winston Churchill — which runs between the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais museums — bears a familar inscription, one that seems more than pointed, given its context. Great Britain would “never surrender,” he said, but recall which country did, and ingnominiously at that, on June 22, 1940, after putting up little more than sporadic resistance to the German blitzkrieg.

On the anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death, let’s recall the stirring words:

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government — every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. 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 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, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Addendum: As we have previously noted, “the resolve of His Majesty’s Government — every man of them” was not quite as firm as Churchill noted in the We Shall Fight on the Beaches speech to the House of Commons on June 4, 1940. Serious thought was given in some quarters to a negotiated settlement with Herr Hitler; Winston would have none of it.

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