Washington DC (Storch Report) — A reader of this column asked me to write a Christmas message today that supports the conviction of the peace of spirit that was spoken about on Christmas Eve of 1941 when all Americans and our allies had a cornerstone of hope & dignity.
You can read the readers’ comments to me at the end of the previous column (Hillary lives in the same unrealistic world as Obama) to find out what she said as well as my response to her, some of which you will find in this column.
She was, “reading David McCullough’s holiday book, ‘In The Dark Streets Shineth,’ that on Christmas Eve 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt stood on a balcony at the White House with Prime Minister Winston Churchill at his side to address our nation and world at a time that the world was shrouded in the darkness of war.”
I had never received an assignment from a reader before in all of my years of writing. But I found this one intriguing in its juxtaposition of the years, 20th century to 21st and 75 years later.
My wife who had read the comments encouraged me to do it. But she advised, “Keep it short.”
That’s easy to say when you are not writing the piece. Everyone’s an editor.
I was seven years old when World War II broke out. I was in the Rex Movie Theatre on Chancellor Ave. in Irvington N.J. at a matinee when the news arrived on Sunday afternoon December 7, 1941.
After our Sunday at the movies, we, my Mother and Father, traditionally went to my Grandmother’s apartment on Robert Place. She had two son’s, my Uncles, living with her at the time — they told us about the war. The sons enlisted, one in the Navy, the other in the Marines. The Navy guy was stationed in Kodiak Alaska for the duration, the Marine landed on Guam and Guadalcanal. Both survived.
I remember the scene and happenings as vividly today as I did yesterday and, as a result, became an amateur history buff of World War II.
But back to the assignment. Our reader went on to quote what was said on that Christmas Eve in 1941: “President Roosevelt stood on a balcony at the White House with Prime Minister Churchill at his side to address our nation and the world at a time that the world was shrouded in the darkness of war.”
Roosevelt said, “Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies.”
And Churchill said, “Here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart . . . Here, then, for one night only, each home . . . should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace.”
They were leaders that knew how to lead and they delivered words that projected dignity and hope to the people, somewhat of a departure from what we see today.
Despite the crisis of the times, Roosevelt and Churchill united two nations and two nations of people along with other allies no matter what side of the pond they resided.
Thomas Wolfe is often quoted as saying, “You can’t go home again.” And, that is often true. I can’t go back to Irvington and reminiscent about what it once was, but I won’t forget what was learned in that community during that period of time I was there. Too often generations make the same mistakes by not reflecting or learning from history.
But what should not be lost is the history of the times, the culture, the rhetoric of message that was successfully used to unite rather than divide.
These were two statesmen who were leaders of their times governing two different forms of government and cultures, but both had a sense of purpose for the times and the conviction to execute a strategy to meet the goals they set forth. And, they did so with what has been called “the greatest generation.” The leaders of today can learn something from that generation if they bother to research history, for they conquered Germany’s Nazi and Italian Fascism as well as Japan’s Imperialism and they did so in four years with conviction and a sense of purpose with an end game in mind. Today wars seem to go on for decades without a sense of conviction or purpose other than political correctness.
There was one other leader during World War II that should be noted and that was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who as General, at the time, was the Supreme Allied Commander and was the glue that held the Allied Forces together in the European Theatre.
Eisenhower is pictured in the black and white photo on the top of this column talking to paratroopers of the 101st Airborne division of the Screaming Eagles the day before they landed on Normandy. He asked if there was anyone here from Kansas and the Lieutenant with the blackened face standing in front of him said, “I am, Sir.” His name was Wally Strobel, who I met long after this iconic photo was taken, one of many members of that generation that I was privileged to know.
Today our ship of state does not have the same sense of purpose and is floundering in a sea of turmoil with wars in the Middle East and radical Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil. We have an executive branch of government that can’t get along with the legislative and vice versa, and a judicial branch that is redefining its role by creating legislation.
We don’t have to go home again to recapture the leadership of the past, we the people can recapture that from leaders of the 21st century, as long as those elected to office do more than give us lip service in support of the constitution of the United States, but do so with policy and restore hope and dignity with conviction and action and a sense of purpose to America by uniting not dividing.