THE STATE FUNERAL OF SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
By Gregory Benton (go over to Piddingworth to read full version)
Forty-three years ago, on the 25th January 1965, Sir Winston Churchill, 'The Valiant Man', died at the magnificent age of 90 years.
The great man's great funeral of state five days later remains vividly in my memory as a young man as the family watched it all unfold on television throughout the day: the procession of the gun carriage to and from St. Paul's Cathedral; the service itself and the moving entrance of Sir Winston's body into the church accompanied by Croft's setting for the Burial Sentences: I am the resurrection and the life saith the Lord. He who believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
There, gathered before the whole world, in one place at one time, were the presentation of the man, the signs, symbols, sounds and words that, in all their historical grandeur, represented everything that we were, in which we believed and for which we held the deepest affection and loyalty: Our Christian Faith, Freedom and Civilisation; Britain, Mother England, the Union 'Jack', the Mother of All Parliaments, the Royal Navy and Marines, the Army and the RAF, resplendent all, even in mourning.
These filled the canvas of the world of which we ourselves were a part; a world, it seemed, that in Churchill's passing, passed with him and, in its celebration of an Empire that made it's last great stand just twenty years before in World War Two.
This was also last month and year that the Union Flag would fly supreme in Canada, although for a time remain cherished and paraded; especially by the veterans of the wars. The desire for a distinctive Canadian flag was surreptitiously symbolic of a policy that, in it's revisionsist history and anti-British ideology, would bury the great Dominion and re-invent the country in the image of Trudeau's franco-utopian mind.
Upon reflection, given the changes since then, not only in Britain and Canada and the United States, but the world itself, and with the current controversy over the transfer of ancient rights, freedoms and customs from Great Britain to the bureaucrats of the European Union, it is not out of place to question whether the will of the British people to which Sir Winston gave voice has surrendered to the apparent impotence and weakness of a generation now so deeply estranged from those things that made England, indeed, all of Britain, great...and free.
Has that which was unthinkable come to fruition by stealth and indifference and perhaps by that mocking, pathetic self-loathing culture that has insidiously crept into our institutions and popular culture?
There are those who, if they are aware of his existence at all, dismiss Churchill and the generation (including our American friends) that saw us through the darkest period in human history, as mere nostalgia, as if it was all about 'adventure' and the romance of 'Empire' rather than the triumph of good over evil.
The changes that occurred in Britain and the British Commonwealth following the war and that have dominantly emerged in the course of the last forty years through the rebellion of the post-war generation and their children is that of a more insular, withdrawn, softer, more and even pejoratively self-indulgent 'man'; mirroring the differences between what was once a great Empire and the contemporary Commonwealth that has descended into a culture of racial and political pretense complicated by tyrannical rulers and murderous regimes. There is very little 'Britishness' left in the Commonwealth even as some are wondering if there is much 'Britishness' left in Britain.
Welcome the 'metrosexual, Europhilic, ahistorical and sensitive man...with a latte.
The things that made Sir Winston Churchill, even with his human flaws, and the things for which he stood so magnificently, did not come out of a vacuum nor were they peculiar to him alone. As Admiral Cunningham once said: 'It takes three days to build a ship; three centuries to build a tradition.' The culture that flourished from the enormous development that occurred from the 18th century into the 20th was fashioned by men and women both, where the stature of the common 'man', raised in virtue and law, reached such a height as to withstand the insults and menacing tyranny threatening our way of life.
If some of us retain an affection for the things of the past, it does not mean that we ought to live in it. The principles, virtues, decency and foundation that have been that past's strength, however, are not so inextricably attached that they be reduced to footnotes in some history book. They are the things that endure; that must endure.
One loves the flag for many reasons but it is what it symbolizes that means most: freedom, the dignity of citizenship and a way of life. These are not for sale as apparently some politicians, without conscience, and their followers think.
As one watches and listens once again to the words of Sir Winston, it is impossible not to imagine how he would respond to the challenges before us today.
Would he not identify and defy the enemy? Would he not call upon us all, citizens in the free world, including the United States, to unite and stand up to those,at home and abroad, who would either destroy or enslave us?
It may get worse before it gets better as my generation passes quickly to another. Where are the few today whose strength of conviction and spirit, daring and courage, will take their place and give hope once again to Britain, her former Dominions and all who love freedom and decency and put an end to the erosion of so much, so dearly bought?
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Wednesday, 30 January 2008
THE STATE FUNERAL OF SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL