AMAC Magazine - Volume 17 / Issue 6 - NOV/DEC 2023

Christmas, Churchill, Hope and

A s Christmas comes, we recall simple things: faith, generosity of spirit, hope. Hope is made real by that star over Bethlehem and atop our tree, slivers of light, smiles at the door, gratitude for others. In a season of hope and lift, a small gift. History is quirky, life is undependable, but hope is always worth having. One story always comes to mind when I think of hope — one about how often we find meaning in the contra- dictions of life. Many years ago, I was in England, and I enjoyed cycling, so I cycled to Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born. A lavish spot, he was in line to inherit it, until luck put a “spanner” (wrench) in the works, as they say, and he did not. If he had inherited Blenheim, he would have become “the tenth Duke of Marlborough,” not a commoner. For sure, this would not have changed his love of scotch and cigars, but it would have changed history. Lords do not serve in the House of Commons,

ter, not milquetoast but determined to rebuff the Germans. Fascinatingly, Churchill was neither popular nor viewed as sufficiently coifed by establishment conserva- tives, although half his family was near royalty and he was born in a palace. Far from it, his scotch, cigars, blunt talk, and belief in freedom, never appeasement, thoroughly irked them. Still, when the chips were down, France crumbling, Nazis spreading, all Europe trembling at Hitler’s rise, Chur- chill did not tremble. His unapologetic, freedom-first, delightfully witty, and courageous personality shined. Terrifying his wife Clementine, he would slip out to the war room at night and go to RAF bases under attack, placing himself in harm’s way for the troops. More than once he narrowly escaped death, unphased. In dark times — times as dark or darker than ours — Churchill, the half-Amer- ican, never lost hope, never lost

from which all prime ministers are chosen. Churchill, his mother American, was an ambitious young man. Left to his own devices, he joined the Army at 21, ventured to India, Sudan, and South Africa, was captured in the Boer Wars, escaped, and then later ended up “head of the Admiralty” or Navy in World War I. After the tragedy at Gallipoli, vari- ously described as a rout and a stale- mate, arguably no fault of Churchill’s, he was demoted. He reclaimed his commission, and he joined the troops in the muddy trenches. A few years later, somehow back from oblivion, this commoner got reelected to Parliament, became the Treasury Secretary, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, and got the British currency back to maximum value. All that would never have happened if, as he once wished, he had inherited Blenheim Palace and become a lord. In 1940, he ascended to prime minis-

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