“After a series of defeats from Dunkirk to Singapore, Churchill could finally tell the House of Commons that “we have a new experience. We have victory-a remarkable and definite victory.”
Alexander and Montgomery turned back Rommel’s forces at El Alamein, thus winning what Churchill called “The Battle of Egypt.” I have never promised anything but blood, tears, toil and sweat. Now, however,
The bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers, and warmed and cheered all our hearts.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Henceforth Hitler’s Nazis will meet equally well armed, and perhaps better armed troops. Hence forth they will have to face in many theatres of war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against other, of which they boasted all round the world, and which they intended to use as an instrument for convincing all other peoples that all resistance to them was hopeless....” (Winston Churchill, “The End of the Beginning,” Nov. 10, 1942)
The excepts above are from what is perhaps among the best inspirationally defiant war-time speeches ever delivered; Winston Churchill’s address to the UK House of Commons, following the great British victory over the heretofore invincible Germany army, at the Battle of El-Alamein.
It was a victory that came at great cost. Thousands of British soldiers dead, their families left to grieve their tragic passing. And yet, it was a victory that was cheered on as a triumphant event by the whole nation, not least because it marked a turning point in a string of setbacks against the vaunted German war machine. And yet, how did Churchill describe it? “... this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
As far as the famed British penchant for understatement goes, this one certainly takes the cake. Never one to miss a moment to inspire the troops and the people, he was also being very candid to them about the whole situation of the war. And that they were yet at the very beginning of what looks like a hopeful future ahead.
Contrast this to Donald Trump’s infamous debacle of a denial, which came on the heels of the revelation from taped conversations he had with famed journalist Bob Woodward.
As it turns out, Trump was very well-informed as early as the beginning of the year that the pandemic situation with Covid-19 was far more serious than all his subsequent actions would seem to suggest. He knew it was going to be lethal. He was aware that it was going to get ugly. He understood that serious steps need to be taken, in order to help save precious American lives.
And yet, what did he do? He sat on the information, pretended it was all nothing to worry about, and that it was all–just like a miracle– “going to go away.”
Covid-19 in the US did everything but go away, and today the numbers of American deaths are quickly piling up, with no end in sight. In his own defense, Trump said he did not want to reveal the true extent of the danger, because as a leader, he did not want the people “to panic.” In his own mind, he equates calmness with ignorance, and inspiration with willful lying.
Going back to a real leader like Churchill, what made him trustworthy and inspiring was his ability to always be candid, but at the same time defiant and hopeful to the people. No lies, no untruths. But truly inspirational, nonetheless.
I can’t imagine if Trump had been the leader of the free world, when the German juggernaut was threatening to overwhelm all of Europe, and its allies were conquering the rest of the world. I’m very sure it would have been a much different world to what we know today.
Ohne Zweifel wuerden wir heute alle fliessend Deutsch sprechen.