Many Brits are known to enjoy a pint a day. Winston Churchill certainly did—though his daily ration was a pint of champagne, not ale. So it was fitting that the wartime prime minister was toasted last week in Washington with clinking glasses of bubbly. House speaker John Boehner invited a small group—of which The Scrapbook was happily part—to celebrate two birthdays: that of the great man himself, and that of the bust in the Capitol that honors him. One was the 140th, the other just the first.
Fred Barnes chronicled in these pages a year ago how the bronze bust came to be. President Obama, redecorating when he moved into the White House in 2009, famously removed a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it to the British embassy. When Boehner became speaker in 2011, he passed a resolution that “an appropriate statue or bust of Sir Winston Churchill” be placed in the Capitol. The Churchill Centre at George Washington University donated the bust, sculpted by the late Oscar Nemon, last year. “Since then, we’ve confronted more grave challenges to our peoples. We’ve been fortunate to rely on our special relationship and, of course, Churchill’s wisdom,” Boehner said in the Freedom Foyer, the alcove where the bust sits, before raising his glass: “So here’s to Winston Churchill, the best friend America ever had.”
British ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott and Churchill Centre executive director Lee Pollock also toasted the only man ever given an honorary American passport. The ambassador spoke eloquently of the two nations’ shared tradition of freedom that goes back to the Magna Carta (which celebrates its 800th birthday next year). The group then retired to the speaker’s rooms for a reception—with more champagne, of course. Some stepped out onto the balcony to smoke the Romeo y Julieta cigars named after the man who helped save Western civilization and always enjoyed its fruits. After everyone shared their favorite Churchill anecdotes—including the apocryphal ones—the talk turned to other tributes. The USS Winston S. Churchill is the only American naval vessel that also flies a foreign ensign. A few attendees immediately had the thought that a second such destroyer would be another great salute to freedom and friendship. Rumor has it a campaign is now in the works for a USSMargaret H. Thatcher. We think the USS Maggie has a rather nice ring to it.
If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves”-Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchhill’s 1942 speech in the U.S. —- ‘Now we are Master’s of our Fate’