WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Secretary of State John Kerry, and congressional leaders dedicated a bust of former British prime minister Winston Churchill in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Speaker Boehner – who sponsored the resolution authorizing the placement of the bust – presided over today’s event, which he opened with the following remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“My colleagues, honored guests, members of the Churchill family, friends from The Churchill Centre, and fellow countrymen:
“Winston Spencer Churchill was the best friend the United States ever had.
“By the time President Kennedy named him an honorary citizen in the spring of ’63, we already considered the man one of our own.
“Growing up, he read our books, and revered Lincoln.
“He knew better than most Americans the trials of the Civil War.
“Even wrote in our magazines, on everything from our hospitality to our food and our engines.
“You could say he saw in America the very exceptionalism we enjoy today.
“Yes, he had his complaints. Like the time he declared our toilet paper to be too thin and our newspapers too fat.
“But it was this man’s curiosity about the land of his mother’s birth that formed the makings of a beautiful – and, of course, special – relationship.
“If pressed to capture this in a single moment, perhaps it would be right here in the Capitol, the day after Christmas, 1941.
“Three weeks after Pearl Harbor, when the aggressors had us on the ropes, and intended to keep us there. Speaking to the Congress, Churchill called on Americans to stand firm.
[At this point, excerpts from Churchill’s address to a joint meeting of Congress played in the hall.]
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of history’s true love stories. Between a great statesman and a nation he called ‘The Great Republic.’
“We are here together to bring it all full circle.
“For today – with peace, justice, and a touch of majesty – Winston Churchill returns to the United States Capitol.
“Just as a statue of Lincoln stands outside Parliament, this bust renews the ties between our peoples and reminds us that the blessings we often take for granted were won through terrific struggle.
“Of course, we’ll be putting our old friend right to work. If you’re looking for his counsel or hoping to feel a little braver, you’ll find him just down the steps from here in a rotunda that – from this day forward – will be known as the Freedom Foyer.
“Because so long as we cheer Churchill’s example – and defend all that he preserved – our shared and sacred cause will live on.
“So welcome, Prime Minister, and welcome to all of you. I hope you enjoy our program, which continues now with the leaders of the United States Congress.”