A Long, Eventful Life
"Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict, for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar."
This call to arms was spoken by Winston Churchill in his inaugural radio broadcast on this day in 1940. It was just nine days after he had become Britain's prime minister. World War II was raging, and Germany seemed invincible. But Churchill stubbornly refused to give in without a fight, and his staunch opposition to Nazi tyranny inspired British resistance.
Arguably one of the greatest public figures of the 20th century, the Right Honorable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on November 30, 1874. Although bornsintosaristocracy, he was critical of the Victorian class system. At the same time, Churchill expressed the most attractive values of the English ruling class---honor, loyalty, and fair play---without the stuffy traditionalism of many of his peers.
Churchill first came to public attention while working as a war correspondent in South Africa. He was captured by the enemy, but escaped from prison shortly thereafter. Upon returning to England, he employed the favorable media attention as a launching pad for his foraysintospolitics. The year was 1900 and Britain's newest member of parliament was 26 years old.