In 1946, Sir Winston Churchill, no longer Prime Minister of Great Britain, embarked upon a lecture tour of the United States. Among the stops he made on the tour was one at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. There, Churchill delivered a speech, called "The Sinews of Peace", that contained what became one of the most famous of Churchillian quotes:

"From Stettin, in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."

For many years thereafter, people spoke of "Iron Curtain" countries, or of events that took place "behind the Iron Curtain." The fame of this speech and of the man who made it, and the place in which it was delivered all were factors in the creation of the Churchill Memorial at Westminster College.

The trustees of the College decided that no finer memorial could be made than to save a historic London church from certain ruin. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, had been in existence since the 12th century, and was redesigned by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677. Badly damaged by an incendiary bomb during World War II, it was scheduled for demolition. Instead, in the early 1960s it was acquired by Westminster College and moved, brick by brick, to the college campus in Missouri. Reconstruction began in April 1964, and the church was rehallowed at a ceremony in May of 1969.

Today, the restored church serves as the home to the collection of artifacts and materials of the Churchill Memorial. The Memorial is devoted to the life and times of Sir Winston and as such features many themed exhibits describing the great man and especially his wartime service. It attracts historians, students, and casual visitors from all over the world, and serves as a repository for many of Churchill’s papers.

The Memorial is frequently the center of cultural events as well. Many present-day politicians and world leaders have spoken there, including Presidents Truman, Ford and Reagan; Prime Ministers Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher; and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who proclaimed the end of the Cold War in his speech, noting the end of the Iron Curtain. A visit to the Churchill Memorial is a must for anyone interested in, or a student of, the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest statesmen.


SOURCE

Westminster College, Winston Churchill Memorial and Library. <http://www.westminster-mo.edu/cm/welcome.asp;> (May 2004).

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