Friday, January 24, 2014

Death of Winston Churchill


London (JFK+50) Sir Winston Churchill, son of Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome Churchill, died 49 years ago today, January 24, 1965, at his home at Hyde Park Gate here in London.  

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

The body of the former British prime minister would lie in state for three days in Westminster Hall.  This honor had not been granted to any English statesman since 1898.  The funeral service was held at St. Paul's Cathedral.

Mr. Churchill was to be buried at the church of St. Martin's located in Bladon, Oxfordshire.  Sir Winston chose the exact plot of burial because it has an unobstructed view of the window where he was born in 1874.

Grave of Sir Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst where his best subject was history.

Winston Churchill became prime minister in May 1940. 

 At a time when Adolf Hitler's armies had taken most of Europe, he said...

 "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." 

 He used the line in six different speeches between 1940 and 1942.

Churchill flashes his famous
"V" for victory sign

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) and Great Britain as closely linked. 

He visited the United States sixteen times between 1895 and 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 City 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 and 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 and was proceeding across 5th Avenue.  Accustomed to looking the other direction in London, he was hit by a car and 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".

FDR and Winston Churchill

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

In 1962, when Mr. Churchill was recovering from injuries he suffered in Monte Carlo,  President John F. Kennedy, who considered the prime minister his own personal hero, 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 and I go to you.

President John F. Kennedy"

By Proclamation 3525, JFK made Sir Winston 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

Prime Minister Churchill

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 and  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 and 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.

Winston Churchill's Funeral