Today, November 30, was Winston Churchill’s birthday. He would have been 131.
Like many, I regard Winston Churchill as perhaps the greatest man of the twentieth century. He alone sounded the tocsin as Germany rearmed. His measureless optimism and indomitable spirit gave the British the sinew to stand alone against the Nazis after his warnings went unheeded. His ringing oratory sustained the fighting spirit of a battered nation. His literary output, and his incomparable command of his beloved language, would make him a towering figure even had he confined himself solely to writing. His six-volume history, The Second World War, is unique in all of literature – a spellbinding account of one of mankind’s greatest struggles, written not just by a gifted historian, but by the leader of a dauntless nation, and the architect of civilization’s ultimate victory.
Above all was Churchill’s love of life. He lived for the game, for the fight, for his people, for his country, for the human race, and for the hope of a shining future.
He was magnificent.
He was also one of the most quotable fellows who ever lived. Just a few samples:
All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Goodwill.
He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.
Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.
I am easily satisfied with the very best.
You must look at the facts, because they look at you.
I like a man who grins when he fights.
If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.
In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.
Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.
There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.
If this is a world of vice and woe, I’ll take the vice and you can have the woe.
Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end; there it is.