I recorded the episode simply because I was interested in seeing a house blown up. World War II isn’t something I’ve been particularly interested in up to now; I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I saw. I was shocked to see the devastation caused by one of the smaller bombs dropped by the Germans – the SC-50 (below). On its own, it destroyed the side wall of the purpose built house…the Germans dropped thousands of these each night. The larger bombs were sometimes more than ten times the size of the SC-50.
However, what really got to me were the stories of the people who were forced to endure it. Death and destruction on an unimaginable scale left the heart of England in tatters. London was in pieces, but not broken.
If we can stand up to him [Hitler], all Europe may be liberated, and the life of the world may move forward into broad and sunlit uplands … Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
This quote from one of Winston Churchill’s speeches is so inspiring. My generation have the unique privilege of being young enough to have avoided the direct consequences of World War II and the blitz, but old enough to have grandparents and sometimes parents that, if not involved in the war effort, experienced the fallout from it. It’s a privilege because I can read Churchill’s speeches fully aware of the outcome of that vicious war. I know that for Britain, there is no doubt that it was our country’s finest hour.
To have carried on, seeing lives obliterated, buildings annihilated and morale almost shattered shows a spirit that I want to have in my life. If that’s what it meant to be British then, I want that to be what it means to be British now. To have a spirit that, despite fear, suffering and horrendous odds against success. I want to fight for the lives we’ve been given and risk everything for a triumphant victory over evil. For the British Empire in 1940, the defence of our nation was an imperative for the liberation of others from evil. But we’re a global community now – how does the past influence the here-and-now?
In our global neighbourhood, many of our neighbours are being ruthlessly slaughtered; be it lack of sanitation, HIV and AIDs or starvation. Militia groups are ruling over their respective regions with selfishness and greed. Many areas are suffering from the horrific consequences of natural disasters. If we saw such devastation on our doorstep, we’d do something about it.
But it is on our doorstep.
Take Churchill’s speech, and alter a few words:
“if we can stand up to starvation, suffering, pain, unnecessary death, all the world may be liberated, and the life of the world may move forward into broad and sunlit uplands … Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that if the nation lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
That’s the world I want to live in. In memory of the people who died for my freedom in the early 1940s, and because Jesus sacrificed far more so that we would love God and love our neighbours – the people in all the corners of the earth.