An Old Magazine

People always want too much for National Geographics. They have two huge bundles bound up with twine and they want a buck apiece or else take the whole bunch for ten bucks. I don’t generally buy them, but I did pay a buck for this one edition. It had an article by a guy I heard of named Dwight D. Eisenhower, writing about a friend of his, Winston Churchill.

“Sir Winston always spoke to me with pride of his American heritage,” Ike says, “and I am certain this link with the New World made him acutely conscious of the common goals of the English speaking peoples. As he once expressed it: ‘My mother was American and my ancestors were officers in Washington’s army. I am myself an English-speaking union.'”

Imagine that! The great-great-great grandson of Washington’s officers is Prime Minister of England and Hitler is knocking at the door. Do not imagine for one instant that there were not fahionable politicians advocating alliance with Hitler. There were many.

Hitler would have been happy to guarantee Britain its empire, if they would only turn a blind eye to what the Nazis were doing in Europe. Churchill would have none of this, and for a long time it was an open question whether Britain would capitulate.

John F. Kennedy said of Churchill, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” Admonitions like, “Be ye men of valour,” were not just rhetoric. They were from the heart.

“On that gray and moving winter day when his soul was committed to the hands of God amid stately pageantry,” Ike remembers, “I knelt in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Around me were old flags, old shields, old prayers — all the evidence of Britain’s long continuity.”

“And I wondered if we in the United States, with our devotion to the new at the expense of the old, to the future at the expense of the past, are not forsaking something precious. For only a nation steeped in history could produce a Churchill.”

I think that insight is worth a buck, don’t you?