Finest hour

Seventy years ago today Winston Churchill exhorted his fellow countrymen to fight the Battle of Britain to save the world from Hitlerism. Churchill brought all his awesome literary and rhetorical power to bear on the speech. The Telegraph draws on Churchill’s papers to tell the story in “Winston Churchill ‘agonised’ over finest hour speech, papers reveal.” Here is the famous peroration of Churchill’s speech:

What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

Via reader Pat Rode.


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