Chargé Yael Lempert
Reflections on the 75th Anniversary of Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” Speech
March 05, 2021
Chargé Lempert: Greetings from London! I’m Yael Lempert, the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in London.
And it is a real honor to be part of the celebrations today. 75 years have now passed since Winston Churchill stood up in Fulton, Missouri, with President Truman by his side, and gave one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century.
It’s difficult to imagine what was going through the minds of the young students of Westminster College sitting in the audience that day. I’m sure they were incredibly excited. After all, it wasn’t every day that they would have had two of the most famous people on the planet travel twenty-four hours and a thousand miles to address them.
But along with the excitement of the occasion, I imagine many of those students were also deeply anxious about the future of the world they lived in. How could they not be? Barely six months had passed since the end of the most devastating war in global history – just three decades after all the horrors endured in the First World War. The once-great cities of Europe and Asia lay in rubble and ruin. The loss of so many men and women was still raw. Many nations were bankrupt, broken and starving.
And there was no guarantee war wouldn’t break out again. The world remained dangerous and divided. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain had descended across the Continent. And Churchill’s powerful words would have resounded with foreboding across that Fulton gymnasium, as they did across the globe.
And yet, in a world beset by problems, what Churchill offered those students that day, was not a prophecy of doom but a declaration of hope. “We hold the power,” he told them, “to save the future.”
And for Churchill, that power lay in each other. It lay in the newly formed United Nations. It lay in the unity of democratic nations. And at the heart of all that, it lay in the special relationship between America and Britain.
Because Churchill had lived to see our countries persevere as allies through two World Wars. He had no doubt that if we stuck together – united in our common values – then there was nothing we couldn’t achieve in the long run.
And history has proved him right. Over the last seventy-five years, the U.S. and the UK have endured tough times. But together, we emerged safely from the perils of the Cold War. Together, we succeeded in laying the foundations of a global multilateral system still used today- from the UN to the IMF to NATO. Together, in our steadfast alliance we have shown the truth of Churchill’s prediction that:
“If all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own, the high-roads of the future will be clear — not only for us, but for all … not only for our time, but for a century to come.”
Well, we may only be 75 years through but over the next quarter of a century and beyond, our Special Relationship will continue to be vital. Whether it’s in tackling this pandemic, rebuilding our economies or rising to the most urgent challenge of our time and working together to prevent catastrophic global climate change. These are serious challenges, but together the United States and the United Kingdom will find the solutions and overcome them.
I want to end by echoing Churchill’s words of pragmatic optimism from seventy-five years ago, that:
“Our path will be difficult and also long, but if we persevere together, I cannot doubt that we shall achieve our common purpose in the end.”
That’s not just the lesson of our past, it’s the inspiration for our future and for our enduring Special Relationship!