Bringing light in a dark season
It was Washington, D.C., December 1941. America had just been thrust into war by the attack on Pearl Harbor. Christmas was coming, and it was not certain whether the newly ordered blackout would be waived for the traditional lighting of the White House Christmas tree.
I was working at the U.S. Department of Labor, and when it was announced that the ceremony would go on, I rushed over to the White House to see it.
It was dusk, and the Christmas tree stood tall and black in front of the crowd. Finally the presidential party arrived. I strained my eyes trying to pick out the President. Suddenly the lights on the platform blazed out. Sitting in the center was President Roosevelt. He was greeted with cheers and applause. But who was that standing next to him? He looked familiar —but it surely couldn’t be. Yes, it was. Winston Churchill! Nobody knew he was in America. I realized he must have come immediately to confer with his new ally.
I no longer remember what either of them said that evening, but I’ll never forget being in the presence of the two greatest leaders of our time.