Today marks the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral. It is, quite correctly, being remembered in Great Britain for without him, the British people would likely still be a distant province of the Third Reich. Some years ago, the British people voted for him as the greatest Englishman ever.
At his funeral, the Queen’s wreath bore the words: “From the nation and the Commonwealth, with grateful thanks. Elizabeth R”
At his request, he was buried in the village of Bladon, close to Blenheim Palace, where he was born.
Even now, fifty years later, there are always people there, wanting to pay homage.
The last time I visited, a few years ago, a man in front of me put flowers on the grave, knelt down and cried. We got to talking. English was not his native language. He was from the Netherlands. Without Churchill, he said, his country would not be free.
The funeral was truly memorable. His beloved Clemmie (his wife Clementine), after dinner that evening, said to his daughter Mary, “That wasn’t a funeral — that was a triumph.”
And so it was. 110 world leaders were there, plus many old friends and colleagues, including former US President Dwight Eisenhower.
Mindful that his mother was American and that he could just as easily have been a member of Congress as a member of the Commons, Churchill had requested that the Battle Hymn of the Republic be sung at his funeral, an unusual choice for a staunch monarchist. Churchill believed absolutely that if the English-speaking countries stayed together, the world would be safe.
While people should pause to remember such a great man, they should also stop and think about what he stood for. For the fact is that, for all the British people’s praise of Churchill, they have rejected all that he stood for!
This was the case immediately after World War II, after the defeat of Nazi Germany but before the defeat of Imperial Japan – Churchill lost the election, rejected by the British people. It was often said that he was a great wartime leader but not the man for peace-time. He was certainly not the man for the radical changes that were to come in the post war years. Yet, time has showed that he was right. The massive expansion of state ownership and control after 1945 was not something he wanted — in recent decades most of it has been reversed. Nor would he have wanted the welfare state that has been created.
Committed to the Empire and Commonwealth, Churchill would have opposed its dismantling and Britain turning its back on its former colonies to embrace Europe.
As is clear in his book “The River War,” Churchill did not think much of Islam and would not have supported the massive influx of Muslims into the UK that has taken place since his death. Nor would he have been cowed by political correctness.
If he were alive today, he would have a clear vision of what is needed to defeat the Islamic extremism that now threatens the world. He fought in the Sudan against the armies of Islamic extremism in what turned out to be the last cavalry charge in British history.
Churchill’s clear vision compared to what we have today, on both sides of the Atlantic, brings to mind these words from the Book of Isaiah.
“The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it.” (Isa 1:5b-6a)