Posted by: Jim E | October 13, 2010

WWII…Winston Churchill’s Speech…And A Good Movie…

I think it was yesterday’s post where I mentioned watershed moments in life…some of those happen in a moment of time, some the situation takes time to recognize…but regardless the fallout last a lifetime…

WWII was a long time ago…I was born in the beginning of 1942…just a couple of months after Pearl Harbor…although I don’t remember those early days of the war, I do remember the late 40’s and 50’s and on…those years were directly effected by WWII and in fact we are still living with those outcomes today…like all of history, both world wide and also our own personal history…it goes on and on…

I want to cover two things, completely unrelated except they happened during the Second World War…one a speech, the other a movie…

The other day I was reading one of Winston Churchill’s speeches…”This was their finest hour” speech…no doubt, he could speak…he used blank verse as he spoke…a regular meter but no rhyme (iambic pentameter)…like Shakespearean plays, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Wordsworth…and many other great English poets…many consider his speeches as reflective of the influence of Old Testament Psalms on his oratory style…there was a certain rhythm…five line paragraphs, set out in indented type, rhetorical style…think Psalms, Shakespeare…

This particular speech, in its original form is now in the Churchill archives in Great Britain…36 minutes in length, 23 pages…Churchill edited it in scrawls of blue and red ink…redrafting right up to the minute he rose to deliver it…adding here and there…rewriting a line or adding a phrase…it looked like poetry…and that gave rhythm and life to his soaring oratory…

So why did I happen to read this speech???…well, Churchill gave this speech June 18, 1940…70 years ago…so an anniversary of a sort…for one of the greatest speeches every given by anyone…France had fallen to the Nazis…just two weeks before, British naval ships and privately owned fishing and pleasure boats rescued 338,000 troops from the beaches of Dunkirk…and Churchill had been in office for only six weeks…and now he was facing the House of Commons to give hope to a nation who had not heard good news for a very long time…

Churchill opened his speech by referring to General Weygand…he was the commanding general of the French troops in France…Churchill, now toward the end of his speech, says that General Weygand has called the Battle of France over…I will attach a short video of that line and the rest of the speech…enjoy part of one of the greatest speeches ever given in the English language:

Now the second topic, about the Pacific war…one of the most underrated movies about the Pacific war, is the 1987, “Empire Of The Sun”…I loved this movie…directed by Steven Spielberg…here is a story about a young English boy who struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during WWII in China…it stars a young Christian Bale as the boy…he does a great job…the story takes him from a special life as a European living in Shanghai, to living in Soo Chow confinement camp…and as the war goes along how life become much more difficult…

One of the parts of the movie that I love is the when Bale (really sung by James Rainbird) sings Suo Gan…the story starts with the song and also near the end it is sung again (I will attach the video)…it is sung in Welsh, for it is a Welsh lullaby…just beautiful, as are the words…but in the video and as the boy sings the song near the end, he is watching Japanese kamikaze pilots preparing to take off…they are singing too…in Japanese, the song, Umi Yukaba, in praise to the emperor, willing to give their lives…the words: “If I go away to the sea, I shall be a corpse washed up. If I go away to the mountain, I shall be a corpse in the grass. But if I die for the Emperor, it will not be a regret.”

It is a beautiful scene but juxtapose to one another, makes it powerful…a lullaby, Suo Gan begins, “Sleep my baby, at my breast, ‘Tis a mother’s arms round you. Make yourself a snug, warm nest. Feel my love forever new. Harm will not meet you in sleep, Hurt will always pass you by. Child beloved, always you’ll keep, In sleep gentle, mother’s breast is nigh.”…while the pilots sing of their death…a powerful scene…

So did you come along for that trip???…it was real wasn’t it…these things happened all across the world…people caught up in events that happen beyond their control…and the leaders, like Churchill…and the everyday people like in the the movie…have to do the best that they can…and this from “Empire of the Sun”: “To survive in a world at war, he must find strength greater than all the events that surround him.”

The truth being…that’s not bad advice for living from day to day…

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Responses

  1. Great post. The summary at the end made me think of Romans 8:31 If God be for us, who can be against us? Of course we know that all the world is against us, but with a God like ours it matters little. Then verses 32-39 explain how much bigger our God is than all the excuses we could put up to not live the Christian life…think of your comment on the day-to-day.
    Oh, one final thing. Churchill didn’t use a teleprompter either…a skill our current speech givers could learn from!


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