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Monday, December 23, 2013

"In Thy Dark Streets Shineth"

“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks to a crowd on Christmas. Behind
him stands Sir Winston Churchill.
If you must know, Sir Winston Churchill is one of my heroes. In fact, I'd say that he's pretty darn near the top of my list.

Not far down on that same list you'll find FDR, the American President that led the country through the Great Depression and through the darker days of World War II. Neither of these men were perfect, but they certainly had many admirable qualities—not the least of which was the ability to inspire men and women during the darkest of times.

In December of 1941, during the heat of the second World War, Winston Churchill traveled to the United States at great risk to his personal safety. After lighting the White House Christmas tree, the two leaders spoke to the crowd that had gathered.
“Our strongest weapon in this terrible war,” said President Roosevelt, “is our conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of all, which Christmas signifies. Against enemies who would preach and practice hate, we set our faith in human love and in God’s love and care for us and for all people everywhere.” 
When President Roosevelt had finished, Winston Churchill rose to speak. “This is a strange Christmas Eve,” said the Prime Minister. “Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, and with the most terrible weapons science can devise, the nations advance upon one another. Here in the midst of war, raging over the lands and the seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous human heart. Therefore, we may cast aside this night the cares and dangers which beset us, and make an evening of happiness in a world of storm. Here for one night only each home should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace.”