Q&A Friday #37: Pick Your Man Of The Twentieth Century: Churchill Or Reagan

Question: “John: Who would you have picked as your “Man of the Twentieth Century,” Ronald Reagan or Winston Churchill?” — lumberjack7393

Answer: I think Reagan was the greatest American President of the 20th Century, but I’d have to give the nod to Churchill over Reagan if the whole world was included.

Not only did he have the foresight to warn the world about Hitler years before others were willing to acknowledge the danger — but when all hope could have been lost in Britain, when they were for all intents and purposes standing alone against the Axis Powers, with the fate of all Europe on their shoulders, he pulled them through the fire and kept them in the game.

Consider the Battle of Britain. It was 1940 and Germans hadn’t foolishly attacked the Soviets yet. Day after day after day, the Germans sent waves of planes at the Brits. The Brits were outnumbered, their cities were bombed, and a Nazi victory over the British Air Force would have meant an invasion that the Brits wouldn’t have been able to stop.

It’s very easy to look back and say, “Oh, of course the Brits won!” It could have very easily gone the other way and the Germans could have conquered Britain. Had that happened, it’s entirely possible that the Germans would have been successful during their invasion of Russia and the US may have never gone to Europe at all.

Imagine a Europe ruled from stem to stern by the Nazis after the end of World War 2. It came closer to happening than most people realize and although a lot of people took a hand in stopping it, when the good guys were “this close” to losing and Hitler almost had victory in his grasp, it was Churchill and the Brits who stood in the gap.

An excerpt from a speech Churchill gave in June of 1940 sums it up rather well:

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

It was their finest hour and his actions then, along with his performance throughout the rest of the war, is why Churchill deserves to be considered the “man of the century.”

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