What Can We Learn from Winston Churchill’s “Darkest Hour”?
By Jeanne Gowen Dennis
My husband’s enthusiasm for Winston Churchill takes up about three feet of bookshelf space in our home. So when we heard about the movie Darkest Hour, of course we had to see it.
I’m not going to review the film here. You can go to Focus on the Family’s Pluggedin site for a good review.
Instead, I want to discuss the impact the movie had on me. First of all, I’ve always enjoyed WW2 European history, probably because I read so many novels about it when I was 11 to 13. Most young people I’ve known have preferred to learn history from novels instead of from dry textbooks.
The Power of Story
As I’ve said many times before, story has power to affect people’s thinking, emotions, and decisions. And this includes stories in movie form.
When The Darkest Hour ended, I wanted to go back and read everything I could find on the history of that time. But more than that, Churchill’s turbulent May of 1940 reminded me of why we must make sure our children learn accurate history.
History really does repeat itself, as we’ve so often heard, most likely because human nature doesn’t change. George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The Lessons of History
As Churchill’s character struggles to reason with opponents in his own party, he keeps mumbling something about Cicero. The real Churchill knew history, and that’s why he remained vigilant in dealing with his enemies both at home and across the Channel.
During an argument about whether England should ask Hitler for peace terms or fight to the end, Churchill finally shouted, “When will the lesson be learned? You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth!”
Churchill realized England had only one choice with Hitler: “Never, never, never give up.” You cannot reason with a tyrant.
Pass It On!
“When will the lesson be learned?” Would our children even recognize a tyrant? Will they be able to remember what happened in the past as they face the future? Parents, teach your children history. Don’t leave it up to the schools, because history textbooks reportedly have been revised for political correctness. Teach them the truth.
When I taught British Literature, I included some of Churchill’s speeches as required reading. Perhaps it’s time to take some of my husband’s Churchill books from the shelf and share them with the grandchildren.