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Dunkirk Spirit

I saw the movie Dunkirk this weekend. If you have a chance, go see it. It's about the plight of the British Expeditionary Force and remnants of the French army trapped on a beach in Belgium at the end of May 1940. 400,000 soldiers waited to board ships to take them back across the channel to England.

Winston Churchill had become Prime Minister less than a month previously. He had been running around with his hair on fire about Germany for years to no avail. The non-interventionist British government steadfastly refused to arm itself. Dunkirk was a military disaster in the making for Britain and Churchill. The bulk of the British army was on that beach.

It's non-stop, one harrowing experience after another. All of it true.

Then a miracle occurs.

A few days later, Churchill gave his We Will Never Surrender speech. In it, he made clear that Britain was on its own, surrounded by countries under the sway of Hitler. It was the last hold out in the West and Dunkirk was only the beginning as to what the entire nation was going to be asked to do in defense of its island. If they were going to be invaded, they were going down fighting, every last one of them.

Churchill put his hopes in America to come to its rescue. We did but not until almost all hope was lost and the British people heroically withstood privation and the Blitz.

These days, guns and bombs aren't necessary. The enemy took us over with its words. But some of us aren't going down without a fight. We will never surrender.

Linguistic note: Churchill delivered this speech using as many English words as he could. There are very few Latin derived words in his speech.

Here are the final few sentences of his speech: