The News Reaches Churchill

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The scene is not America, it is London. It is late evening of December 7, 1941, and Winston Churchill has just heard the news of Pearl Harbor. “So we had won after all,” he said, “England would live, Britain would live; the Commonwealth and the Empire would live.… Once again in our long Island history we should emerge, however mauled or mutilated, safe and victorious we should not be wiped out. Our history would not come to an end. Hitler’s fate was sealed, Mussolini’s fate was sealed.” The next day he went to the House of Commons to make the announcement. That is the scene I should most like to have been a part of, the address I should most like to have heard.

Listen to Churchill, and recall, as you do, that sonorous voice, the veritable voice of History and, as it turned out, the voice of Doom: “The enemy has attacked with an audacity which may spring from recklessness, but which may also spring from a conviction of strength. The ordeal to which the English-speaking world and our heroic Russian Allies are being exposed will certainly be hard.… Yet when we look around us over the sombre panorama of the world, we have no reason to doubt the justice of our cause or that our strength and will-power will be sufficient to sustain it. “We have at least four fifths of the population of the globe upon our side. We are responsible for their safety and their future. In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.”