He became the symbol of a nation. The pride of Britain. A bastion for freedom. A presence as large as the respect it garnered—fuming cigar lodged within the clenches of his jaw, the harsh accent sounding from his bulldog visage, and two fingers held high in strict defiance in the shape of a “V” for victory. Above all, Winston Churchill became a portrait for perseverance, inspiring millions and uniting young and old, rich and poor in the belief that good shall triumph with a doggedness of a united front.
The people he served identified with him. “Winnie,” as they called him, had guts. “He was us,” said his people. His “finest hours” were theirs, as he persevered not alone and not for his own gain. “We were the lion,” he stated with a confident humility, “I only provided the roar.” But that roar, that call for noble action and unity amongst people, echoed as a bullhorn amplifying to the world that a leader had stepped forward during the blackest of moments in the Second World War. Eisenhower once said of Churchill that, “He lived his years with no thought of the length of time he might be permitted to serve. He was concerned only with the quality of service he could render to his country and to humanity.”
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat…You ask, what is our aim? I can answer one word: victory- victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be.”
Winston Churchill offered his “blood, tears, toil and sweat,” in brave defiance against a force he so deeply wished to defend against, not for his own good, but for his people. For the ideals he held dear, the same ideals that the Pilgrims clung to as they crossed the sea toward freedom, he believed were worth every ounce of his effort. And his effort fortified by his courage bolstered him against an evil while other men may have settled.
His speeches alone provided the impact of an army, his words riding in on cavalry, flanking in the enemy and sounding as trumpet cry into battle. When victory he so proselytized seemed like an ephemeral dream, he summoned the gumption of a wearied and afraid people. He evoked the pride in a people and a passion for persistence. He “braced himself to his duties.”
Contentment was not in Winston Churchill’s character. Enough was never enough. In political life, he stepped outside his bounds, and he shocked with his sometimes-tactless comments—his faults came in earnest from an honest and authentic ardor. With cards stacked against him in the war, with Britain feeling like it would crumble under the weight of evil, that ardor held a candle of hope, and his words inspired the people to fan it into a wildfire. In those days of darkness of World War II, Churchill in fact began planning his own funeral, not for fear of losing—no, losing was not an option—but with confidence that should he be called to die for his country and for freedom in the world, so he should die. He recognized the travail that lay before him, and he firmly believed, as he quoted Lindsay Gordon to Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt, that one should “persevere to earn the season of rest.”
BBC Churchill Address to the Harrow School
After Churchill’s passing in 1964, Harold Macmillan addressed the House of Commons with a tribute to their inspiring leader, “If I were to try to sum up his true character, I can think of no words more appropriate than those which he himself has written on the flyleaf of each volume of his history in the Second World War.
“In war: resolution.
In defeat: defiance.
In victory: magnanimity.
In peace: good will.”
Churchill’s legacy of resolute perseverance echoes still in the hearts of many. A mantra plays in their heads, a bulldog bark shouting “Never, never, never give in,” inspires persistence and courage.
“I think when you study the life of a man like Winston Churchill,” John Hornsby, Chairman of Welch Hornsby states, “the study very quickly reveals that everything did not come easily. There were always ups and downs, good times and bad, but what makes anyone succeed, in business or in life, is the ability to stay committed to the idea that giving up is not an option. Staying the course, led by integrity and courage, will most assuredly take you over the finish line.”
Eddie Welch, CEO and President of Welch Hornsby, has the honor of spreading Churchill’s message of humble defiance to younger generations. “I have coached youth baseball for years. Aside from helping young men with the development of athletic skills, I sincerely hope they have learned that giving up is not an option. And that sometimes they will strike out, or will lose a tough game, or fail a test, or have their heart broken. Sometimes in life they will just fall down—maybe even a lot of times. Falling down does not make them better, it’s getting back up that does.”
It was said that tears came as quickly and naturally to Churchill as his gruff bellows. That authenticity, that whole-heartedness in all endeavors, especially those that selflessly fought for the nobility and honor of freedom, continues to inspire millions toward victory.
In our lives that, day in and day out, may seem toilsome, we are inspired by the man who stepped forward as a great leader, a man who led nations in a charge against seemingly unbeatable odds, and a man that believed that at all costs, we should “never, never, never give up.”
His was an investment in a life of uncompromising commitment.