EDITORIALS

Churchill hailed

11/30/2013
31n5churchill

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in October during a ceremony to dedicate a bust of Winston Churchill.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in October during a ceremony to dedicate a bust of Winston Churchill.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in October during a ceremony to dedicate a bust of Winston Churchill.

Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s inspirational prime minister during World War II, did not invent the idea of the “special relationship” between the United States and the British people. Although he used that phrase in speeches, the shared recognition of familial democracies and faithful allies preceded him.

But Mr. Churchill personified this relationship. That’s why this statesman for the ages deserves to have a bronze bust displayed in the U.S. Capitol.

Recently, lawmakers of both parties gathered to install Mr. Churchill’s likeness and listen to his stirring diction, as it was recorded in the halls of Congress on Dec. 26, 1941. The bust portrays his head and shoulders projecting strength and defiance, as he often did in the service of defending freedom.

Without Mr. Churchill in No. 10 Downing Street during World War II, promising his countrymen that “we shall never surrender,” Britain may have succumbed to the Nazi threat. America, left alone, may not have been able to turn back the evil regime that was gripping much of the world.

This new honor is deserved. Mr. Churchill, born of an American mother and made an honorary U.S. citizen, was a great friend of the United States in war and peace, in word and deed. In reconciling the different strands in the long loop of history, members of Congress applied a salve to an unfortunate abrasion of recent history.

When President Obama took office, he returned a bust of Mr. Churchill that had been in the Oval Office on loan from the British government, leading to criticism by conservatives. The British Embassy in Washington explained that the return of the piece had been set in motion before Mr. Obama arrived, but that may have been just good manners.

At the very least, Mr. Obama seems to have been tone-deaf to the significance of his action. American presidents deserve to gaze at the prime minister’s likeness and to be inspired by his steely determination. The bust should have remained in the White House.

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. It is fitting that a great country should have a permanent place for him among its public memorials. Now it does.