WASHINGTON — Generations after it boomed across a joint session of Congress on Dec. 26, 1941, to embolden a weary United States reeling from Pearl Harbor, Sir Winston Churchill’s voice once again echoed through the halls of Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
“As long as we have faith in our cause, and an unconquerable willpower, salvation will not be denied us,” he said, in a decades-old recording that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, played for a packed house at the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.
The occasion, a dedication of a Churchill bust in the famed hall, was a rare show of bipartisan and trans-Atlantic pomp and circumstance, as diplomats, leaders — and a legendary rock star — paid tribute to one of 10 Downing Street’s most famed residents. Churchill was Britain’s prime minister during and after World War II.
Boehner, who called Churchill “the best friend the United States ever had,” was instrumental in adding Churchill’s likeness to the hall’s roster of historical figures. Boehner’s resolution, passed in December 2011, set aside space and resources for the bust. It took awhile to commission and complete the bust, donated by the Churchill Centre, so the dedication didn’t happen until this year.
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It stands as a symbol, Boehner said, of one of history’s “true love stories, between a great statesman and a nation that he called the Great Republic.”
Officials urged Washington’s lawmakers to channel Churchill’s collaborative and cooperative spirit in all their endeavors, and Republicans and Democrats alike mouthed the words as The Who’s Roger Daltrey sang “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Why Daltrey, 69, who also sang “Stand By Me,” was chosen to perform, was not explained.
Material from The Washington Post is included in this report.