In the Footsteps of Giants(1)
May 10, 2007 5:04am CST
Winston Churchill was on a roll. In his quarters at the White House over Christmas 1941, the visiting British Prime Minister was in the bath, dictating to an assistant. Coming out of the bathroom, churchill dropped his towel, and there was the PM, in all his naked glory, pacing and talking. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. "Come in," Churchill said as he returned to face Franklin Roosevelt, who apologized and bgan to retreat. The prime minister stopped him. 'You see, Mr. President," he quipped, "I have nothing to hide from you." Roosevelt loved it, and later told his secretary Grace tully with a chuckle, "You know, Grace, he's pink and white all over." After Churchill returned home from this trip, Roosevelt told him, "It is fun to be in the same decade with you." Were Roosevelt and Churchill really friends, or just allies in a marriage of convenience?" "A man in high office" is neither husband nor father nor friend in the commonly accepted sense," Eleanor Roosevelt once said, rather chillingly." While there is undeniably a central element in friendships betreen public figures, there can be a personal bond there, too, one formed by sharing a common cause and carrying the same burdens. Meeting Roosevelt, Churchill once said, was like "opening a bottle of champagne." Born eight years and an ocean apart, sons of rich American mothers, they loved tocacco, strong drink, history, the sea, battleships, hymns, pageantry, patriotic poetry, high office and hearing themselves talk. But it was hardly love at first sight. Roosevelt and Churchill met briefly at a dinner in London on Monday, July 29, 1918. Roosevelt was 36 and assistant secretary of the navy; Churchill, 44 and minister of munitions; America and Britain were allies against Germany in the First World War. "I always disliked him since the time i went to England in 1917 or 1918," Roosevelt would tell Joseph Kennedy in 1939. "At a dinner i attended he acted like a stinker." (Churchill did not recall the meeting at all.0 They would not hbe in contact again for 21 years. When Roosevelt and Churchill next crossed parts, Britain was fighting Nazi Germany alone; America, tied down by an isolationist public that wanted no part in yet another European war, hung back. Roosevelt was exquisitely sensitive to public opinion and did not know if churchill was worth betting on.
5 Jul 07
I must admit that in college I have nenver concentrated in studying history. But later on I realized the value of learning the lessons and poignant wisdom from the past. Mr. Churchill was a major influence in the outcome of the World War 2. If not for this man, we could have been a different world today. Thanks for posting this anecdote in one of the days of the great Prime Minister.