June 4th, 1940 would become one of the days that would change the course of history.
For this young soldier, the day would start on the beach of Dunkirk. Surrounded by enemies, cut off from home by the English Channel. The beach where he stood was too shallow for the navy’s ships. Capture or death at the hands of the enemy seemed imminent.
A few months before, he and 390,000 of his countrymen left their homes to go to France. They were young and filled with ideas of adventure and daring. Their job? To stop German aggression in Europe.
Soon, they found themselves outflanked by their enemies. Friends of his had been cut down or captured. Faced with war’s harsh realities, he was no longer young, but he was still a soldier. It was only that strict soldier’s discipline that kept him in the fight. Unable to hold their positions against the Germans. Withdrawal back to the sea was their only hope.
Surrounded and under siege. Unsure if he will ever see home again. Only a narrow piece of the English Channel separated him from those green hills. Still, without a shallow draft boat to take him, it might as well be a million miles away.
When all seems lost, arising out from the horizon, he sees an armada of small craft. Boats of all shapes and sizes. Fishing boats, pleasure boats, tugboats, and workboats. At the helm, civilians, his countrymen, determined to get their boy’s home, despite any personal risk.
By the afternoon, he is home again. No longer in immediate danger, the soldier is overwhelmed with emotions, trying to process all that has happened.
Later that same day, his country's new leader, Sir Winston Churchill, addresses the House of Commons. His voice is broadcast by radio to all his countrymen.
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”
Fully aware of the gravity of the words spoken, this soldier lowers his head to say a prayer. Reaffirming his commitment to defend his home and his people. No matter the cost, he turns in the direction of the enemy and raises his head; he has been reborn as a warrior.
With these forty-two words, Winston Churchill inspired a country. A country that would embody the warrior principles of Honor, Duty, Courage, and Service.
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