Watching the news of the miserable murders in London, I am reminded, oddly, of the other Bombing of Britain. After weeks of torturous air raids on London and its suburbs, Nazi Germany surely thought that English stood on the brink of collapse.
But in the midst of the carnage, terror, and mayhem, Prime Minister Winston Churchill found the time to address the people of the United States. He encouraged us to keep a stiff upper lip. At the time, America had not entered the war. The relatively few Americans who had ever heard the term Pearl Harbor thought it a place, not an event. Yet here was the British Prime Minister, under siege, encouraging us "neutral" Americans not to worry.
Psychologically, the speech was brilliant. To the Americans, many of whom were urging the Roosevelt administration to begin kissing up to Hitler so convinced were they that Britain was about to succumb, Churchill's speech must have come as a slap--like those Patton delivered to cowards in hospitals years later. (Both men he slapped returned to combat, one earning a Silver Star for bravery, one dying in battle, both having written home to tell their parents that Patton saved their manhood.) To his countrymen, the speech demonstrated confidence in their fortitude, their bravery, their tenacity that no speech to them could ever convey.
Seeing the stoic solidness of the Londoners today I half expect Tony Blair to repeat history. I imagine him calling on our networks to air a speech to America urging us not to let the bombings cause us to go wobbly.
To my brothers and sisters in England, I say, God bless you and keep you. Thank you for your heroic bravery. I know you need no encouragement, but I will pray that you all continue to show the world that we are not all Spaniards. You will look the enemy in the eye and say, "Nuts!"
May your response to these cowardly acts inspire the weak people in the Americas and Europe. May we all look to London and say, "I want to be like them." When the history of the 21st century is written, may it record that this was your finest hour.
Cross-posted on The Bower