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January 24, 2011

Today’s JFK+50 post honors JFK’s own hero: Winston Churchill

January 24, 1965


Sir Winston Churchill, son of Lord Randolph Churchill & Jennie Jerome Churchill, died today at his home at Hyde Park Gate in London.  

He is survived by his wife, Lady Clementine Churchill, who was at his side at the time of death.

The body will lie in state for 3 days in Westminster Hall.  This honor has not been granted to any English statesman since 1898.  The funeral service is scheduled to take place at St. Paul’s cathedral.

The former Prime Minister will be buried at the church of St. Martin’s located in Bladon, Oxfordshire.  Mr. Churchill chose the exact plot of burial because it has an unobstructed view of the window where he was born in 1874.

He was educated at Harrow & Sandhurst where his best subject was history.

Winston Churchill became PM in May 1940.  At a time when Hitler’s armies had taken most of Europe, he said:  “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears & sweat.”  He used the line in six different speeches between 1940 & 1942.

In the process of leading his nation to victory, Churchill said:

“We shall not flag or fail.  We shall go on to the end….we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be we shall never surrender.”

Mr. Churchill viewed the United States (his mother was born in New York City) & Great Britain as closely linked. He visited the U.S. 16 times between 1895 & 1961.

In 1930, he attended his 1st American football game at Columbia.  He said:  “Actually, it is somewhat like rugby, but why do you have to have all those committee meetings?”

During a visit to New York in 1931, he checked in to the Plaza Hotel.  A call came to his room from the front desk asking if anything was needed.  He pretended to be his own valet & said:

“Mr. Churchill is a man of simple tastes; he is quite easily satisfied with the best of everything.”

An unfortunate accident occurred when Mr. Churchill exited a taxi & was proceeding across 5th Avenue.  Accustomed to looking the other direction in London, he was hit by a car & was in hospital for 8 days.

In 1943, FDR took the PM on a drive while Churchill recited from memory John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Barbara Frietchie”.

Also, in 1943, Winston Churchill was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard.

In 1962, when Mr. Churchill was recovering from injuries he suffered in Monte Carlo,  President Kennedy sent him the following telegram:

July 6, 1962

“Dear Sir Winston:

We have been encouraged by the reports of the progress you have made and heartened again by your display of indomitable courage in the face of adversity.  The wishes of all our peoples as well as those of Mrs. Kennedy & I go to you.
President John F. Kennedy”

By Proclamation 3525, JFK made WSC an honorary American citizen:

“Whereas Sir Winston Churchill, a son of America though a subject of Britain, has been throughout his life a firm and steadfast friend of the American people and the American nation…I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States…”

April 9, 1963

Mr. Churchill’s response:

“I have received many kindnesses from the U.S.A. but the honour which you now accord me is without parallel.  I accept it with deep gratitude & affection.”

In coverage of  Mr. Churchill’s death, The New York Times wrote:

“He drank wine for breakfast….and champagne and brandy and whiskey…throughout the rest of the day.  He smoked cigars continuously.  He never exercised. And his health was amazing.”

Following are my favorite Winston Churchill quotes & stories:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing…..after they’ve tried everything else.”

“It has been said democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.”

Nancy Astor once told Winston Churchill that if she were married to him she would put poison in his tea.  

He responded:  ‘Madam, if I were married to you….I would drink it!”

Bessie Braddock once said to Mr. Churchill: “Sir, you are drunk!”  

He answered:  “Madam, you are ugly!  In the morning, I shall be sober.”

At Westminster Hall, 321,360 people filed past Winston Churchill’s casket which was draped with the Union flag.

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