Sometimes on social media, one writes something and gets slammed.  Last week, I was both slammer and slamme.  When a woman likened the riots in Ferguson as having to do with liberals.  I took offense, replying that as a liberal, I believed in the rule of law.  If one does not like a law, one must work to change it.  I said the freeway near her house was paid by our taxes, a liberal concept that we need government to pay for things too big for individuals to handle themselves.  I suspected I paid more taxes than she.  I threw in my being a veteran as well, since some think that liberals don’t serve in the military.  Dick Cheney didn’t.

I didn’t know all the facts.  Sadly, her husband had been laid off.  While trying to hunt deer for meat, since they needed food, people drove by shooting off guns to scare deer away.  I don’t like hunting, but most hunters are conservationists, and we share a deep love of the land.  Subsistence hunting is different from trophy hunting.  Hunters must buy Duck Stamps, which every environmentalist should, too.  The woman apologized, and I accepted it.  She’s having a rough time, and I hope she gets back on her feet soon.  I did not levy any more cheap shots; I didn’t comment that unemployment insurance was a liberal idea.  I don’t kick people who are down.

This week, I got slammed on My Stealthy Freedom page, for a comment I thought fairly innocuous.  It bummed me out for a couple of days, and I was puzzled by the behavior of the commenter.  I eventually let it go, but I will comment far less; I don’t like being slammed.

I never, however, expected to get slammed by my older brother, who occasionally writes me, usually on my birthday.  But he weighed in the other day, when I posted that it happened to be the 140th anniversary of the birth of Sir Winston Churchill, who is my hero.

I know full well that Sir Winston was an imperfect man.  All of us are.  I am imperfect as hell, and frankly, so is my brother.  Sir Winston drank, had a streak of nastiness in him, but was one of the great writers and orators of the 20th century, and an absolute master of the English language.

I begin with my favorite quotation, because it shows both sarcasm and nastiness, two of my major flaws:

“Sir Winston, if you were my husband, I’d give you poison.”

“Lady Astor, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

But let’s get serious:  Churchill was prescient.  He knew war was coming, well before others, and when things went south in a hurry, he came forth with leadership, knowledge, speeches evoking the stunning beauty of the English language, and predicted closely what would happen.  “Wars are not won by evacuations,” called attention to the luck and leadership that kept Dunkirk from becoming a major disaster.  Many of his words, his incredible words, still ring in my head today.  The forward, “Their Finest Hour,” the second of six volumes about the war:  “How the English people held on, alone, until those who had hitherto been half blind, were half ready.”  If there has been a better use of the word “hitherto” in the English language, I have yet to see it.  “So if the British Empire lasts for a thousand years, men will still say ‘This….was their finest hour.’ “

On the invasion of North Africa:  “This is not the end.  This is not the beginning of the end.  It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”  The Italian campaign in 1943:  “The fate of this part of the world is being decided by some things called LSTs.”  I, too, was a Navy man.  Absolutely spot on.  Churchill pushed for invasion of southern Europe, which had it been done, would likely have kept much of Eastern Europe out of the Soviet sphere of influence.  It would have been a different world.

To be fair, I need to quote my brother directly:

Serious? Sure, he was a great leader in WWII, but he needed that war as much as it needed him. One definitely gets the idea that if there had been no war, he would have tried to start one, just so he could earn personal glory. That was basically what happened in Gallipoli in WWI.   My point was that Churchill would have been a historical nobody had he died before he was 65.  He lived past 65, however, when history gave him an opportunity to take the leading role on the world’s stage.

I have little doubt he would have dropped the bomb had he been in Truman’s shoes.   I never knew that my brother felt that way about the Bomb (My sarcasm comes forth here; it is “Bomb,” not “bomb.”).  I would have dropped the Bomb, too.  I’ve seen Pearl Harbor, the tunnels at Corregidor, Bataan, Kwajalein, Kagoshima, where the attack on Pearl Harbor was planned, the Memorial Cemetery at Manila, the jail there where American prisoners drowned at hide tide, the guns facing the wrong way in Singapore, and Eniwetok.  The fire bombing of Tokyo in May, 1944, killed far more people than Hiroshima, horribly so, through burning.   Estimates of casualties on the American side, had we invaded the Japanese Home Islands, would have been a million.  I respect those who disagree with me.  But my shoes have walked upon hallowed ground abroad.

He just happened to be in the right place at the right time, when his belligerent nature could be put to good use.  Exactly, dear brother.  He was in the right place at the right time; he knew what to do and how to do it.  Some of us in our lives may be fortunate enough to inhabit those two dimensions simultaneously, but we don’t achieve greatness.  Churchill was absolutely the right man for the job.   It wasn’t happenstance that he said, “We are waiting for the invasion.  So are the fishes.” That is one of the few perfect uses of the -es plural for “fish” outside of the Bible.

Churchill remains my hero, because he led through words, spoken and written, as well as deeds.  His ability to perfectly command the English language makes me proud to be part of the English speaking peoples (his wrote another four volume set, “The History of the English Speaking Peoples”).  He became great when he was older than 65.  He was imperfect and nasty, but made correct predictions far ahead of his time.  Those last three traits are part of my personality.  I am imperfect, often nasty, but have been far ahead of my time in medicine.  I am no Churchill; I can neither write nor speak English as well:  “If Hitler invaded hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

Churchill made exact predictions after the war, too. His final volume, “Triumph and Tragedy” had its forward: “How the great Democracies triumphed, and in doing so were able to resume the practices that so nearly cost them their existence.”

I may have been slightly inaccurate in my quotations, for I deliberately chose not to look them up.  They are burned into my mind.


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