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June 18, 2004

192 years ago today...


WAR! Congress declares "Mr. Madison's War" on June 18, 1812. It may have cost a huge remodeling job on the White House, but we once again bored the British into preferring French-bashing to dealing with fractious colonials, and they dropped the idea of re-absorbing us into the Empire. And we *still* failed to beat-up the Canadians after three tries, the fall-out of which I deal with periodically as they drop by and go "Neener-neener-neener!" The animation above was shamelessly stolen from this website about the war, which you should go visit!

64 years ago, Sir Winston Churchill stood in Parliament and delivered a sobering recitation of military failure after military failure, concluding his speech with one of the most famous bits of oration in the english-speaking world:

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.'

Go read the whole thing - it makes the last paragraph even better. Dubya's speechwriters would do well if they could write something like this speech.