He wants to be remembered as standing “...on both American and British soil”.
Churchill’s father was British, the son of the Duke of Marlborough, and his mother American, the daughter of an owner of the New York Times. His entire career, from his initial U.S. speaking tour in 1899 to his final reception at the White House in 1959, evidenced his attachment to Anglo-American friendship...
Churchill’s father was British, the son of the Duke of Marlborough, and his mother American, the daughter of an owner of the New York Times. His entire career, from his initial U.S. speaking tour in 1899 to his final reception at the White House in 1959, evidenced his attachment to Anglo-American friendship and unity. This became particularly marked during his term as Prime Minister in World War II, when he maintained the fight against Naziism until the U.S. could enter the war, and then worked together with President Roosevelt to achieve victory.
Churchill retired from public life in April 1955 at the age of 80, and he would live another ten years. During this period he published his last great books, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which made the essential connection of commonality between Britain, its Commonwealth and the U.S. His feeling for the American people was reciprocated, and on April 9, 1963, President Kennedy awarded him honorary U.S. citizenship, making Churchill just the second person after the Marquis de Lafayette to receive this tribute. “By adding his name to our rolls,” said JFK, “we mean to honor him–but his acceptance honors us far more. For no statement or proclamation can enrich his name–the name Sir Winston Churchill is already legend.” Churchill responded by stressing his attachment to the two nations, saying “I am, as you know, half American by blood, and the story of my association with that mighty and benevolent nation goes back nearly ninety years…In this century of storm and tragedy I contemplate with high satisfaction the constant factor of the interwoven and upward progress of our peoples…Mr. President, your action illuminates the theme of unity of the English-speaking peoples, to which I have devoted a large part of my life.”
Shortly after, the English-Speaking Union determined to erect a statue of Churchill to stand outside the British ambassador’s residence on Embassy Row in Washington. Bradshaw Mintener was president of the Washington branch of the Union and a member of the committee in charge of the project. The plan was for the statue’s feet to straddle the boundary line between the British Embassy grounds (technically British territory) and the District of Columbia – American territory. This would symbolize Churchill’s Anglo-American parentage and his status as an honorary citizen of the United States.
Mintener notified Churchill of this intention and received this reply.
Typed Letter Signed on his Hyde Park Gate stationery, London, March 2, 1964. “I am indeed obliged to you for your letter. Would you please convey to the Washington Branch of the English-Speaking Union my warm thanks for the great honour you do me? It gives me the greatest pleasure that the statue should stand on both American and British soil, and I feel that it will rest happily and securely on both feet.”
The project proceeded and the nine-foot statue that resulted shows Churchill holding his trademark cigar in one hand and flashing the “V” for victory sign with the other. It was designed by William McVey, was dedicated in 1966, on the third anniversary of Churchill’s honorary U.S. citizenship. It remains standing there today.
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