Weekly Gem #210 We Shall Fight
Location: This weekly gem is located just southeast of the British Embassy in Washington, DC (see the Clue Me! Map). The grounds of foreign embassies are territory of the foreign country. If you walk onto the British embassy, you are in Great Britain. Winston Churchill was such a believer in the partnership between the U.S. and the British that his statue is standing in both countries. One foot in the U.S., and one foot in the U.K.
Churchill was an extraordinarily well-rounded man.
As a child, he spent many of his days chasing and collecting butterflies. This was a temporary obsession. He later became an author (43 books, and a Nobel Prize in literature), a painter (over 550 paintings), a soldier, a war correspondent, and of course, a politician.
Somewhat uncoordinated and prone to accidents, he fell a lot, including … off a bridge, off multiple horses, off a ship (but luckily only dislocated his shoulder), and out of the sky (learning to fly in the early 1900s when he crashed his plane). He once got hit by a car in New York City, because he looked right then stepped into the street. He once lost his grip on his towel when Franklin Roosevelt startled him by entering his room unannounced. Churchill had just emerged from the bath, and was wearing only that towel, whereupon he stated: “The British Prime Minister has nothing to hide from the American President!”
He was extremely fallible in war, having ordered the launch of what turned into one of the worst-ever defeats of British troops. Look up Gallipoli.
And yet, he certainly earned this statue. Perhaps the moment that sums up the “why” was June 4, of 1940. Early stages of WWII, just days after Dunkirk. The British had successfully saved almost 340,000 soldiers from death or surrender, through extraordinary effort and sacrifice. But they had lost all of their tanks, artillery, trucks, and equipment. There was virtually nothing left to fight with. Britain was fully defensive, standing alone against Germany.
Churchill made a speech telling his people the reality. The loss that accompanied the saving of these men was “a colossal military disaster.” He told his people to prepare for invasion. But he did so in a way that told Adolf Hitler what to expect if he did invade.
‘Turning once again to the question of invasion.
We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous maneuver.
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty … we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.
Even though large tracts of Europe have fallen and may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.’
Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940.
And then he delivered.
Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.
V for Victory
The statue of Winston Churchill at the British Embassy in DC
Why It's Interesting
Winston Churchill is one of only two people to be made honorary American Citizen (the other being Mother Teresa). This statue has one foot on U.S. soil, and the other foot on British soil.