(JFK+50) Winston Spencer Churchill, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, passed way a half-century ago today, January 24, 1965. Mr. Churchill was President John F. Kennedy's hero.
Jacqueline Kennedy wrote...
"From the time he was a sickly little boy, (Jack) spent his life looking up to Winston Churchill."
President Kennedy would have enjoyed the Chris Matthews story of how his own father, a Nixon Republican, compared JFK favorably to the Prime Minister.
Chris said that Kennedy had "a touch of Churchill and that made all the difference."
There are stories about JFK patterning his blue pinstripe suit after Churchill's and listening to recordings of Churchill's speeches while taking a bath.
But the story we find most intriguing is the one about JFK's first meeting with his hero. According to Richard Langworth, the source of this story is from William Douglas-Home's oral history at the JFK Library and supported by Jacqueline Kennedy's "Conversations."
The year was 1958. The place was on Aristotle Onassis's yacht Christina in the South of France.
Senator Kennedy had a brief conversation with the former Prime Minister and afterwards asked Jackie..."How did I do?"
She replied, "I think he thought you were a waiter, Jack."
In a later meeting documented in Willi Frischauer's Onassis, Langworth tells us that JFK talked to Mr. Churchill about his concerns that his Catholic religion might hinder his quest for the presidency.
Mr. Churchill said...
"If that's the only difficulty, you can always change your religion and still remain a good Christian."
JFK apparently found the answer amusing and laughed.
Richard Langworth writes that Winston Churchill "expressed admiration of John F. Kennedy" on more than one occasion and "congratulated him after his election" as President of the United States.
Statue of Winston Churchill
Parliament Square, London
Photo by Ziko (2004)
At a ceremony awarding Churchill honorary American citizenship held at the White House in April 1963, President Kennedy said...
"Whenever and wherever tyranny threatened, (Winston Churchill) has always championed liberty. Facing firmly toward the future, he has never forgotten the past. Serving six monarchs of his native Great Britain, he has served all men's freedom and dignity.
In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone...he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. The incandescent quality of his words illuminated the courage of his countrymen."
The citizenship proclamation reads...
"I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, under the authority of...Congress, do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States of America."
*Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was born in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, UK and graduated from the Royal Military College. He was commissioned in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars in 1895 and was elected to Parliament in 1900, served as Chancellor of Exchequer (1924-1929) and Prime Minister (1940-1955).
"Churchill Meets JFK: he thought you were a waiter, Jack," by Richard Langworth, June 22, 2013, www.richardlangworth.com/jfk/