1 year ago
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
This week’s Magpie prompt hit me with a sudden memory of what is probably the most famous “chicken” speech ever made.
Picture this: it was December 26th, 1941, just a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor. These were the darkest moments of World War II.
It was on this date that Prime Minister Winston Churchill made an address to the American Congress. He certainly felt he had a right to be there; he was part American. His mother had been Jennie Jerome, born and brought up in Brooklyn, N Y.
Churchill: “I wish indeed that my mother, whose memory I cherish, could have been here to see. By the way, I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own. In that case this would not have been the first time you would have heard my voice.
“The United States have been attacked and set upon by three most powerfully armed dictator states, the greatest military power in Europe, the greatest military power in Asia-Japan, Germany and Italy have all declared and are making war upon you, and the quarrel is opened which can only end in their overthrow or yours.”
Just a couple of days later, in Ottawa, Churchill made his famous “chicken” speech. He said the military leaders of France were misled by their generals at the time of the French collapse, adding that when he warned them that Britain would fight on alone, their generals told their Prime Minister, "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.”
You can catch the speech on YouTube. Churchill’s mastery of the art of public speaking, how and where to pause and how to deliver a punch line, was very much in evidence.
After he quoted “England will have her neck wrung like a chicken,” he paused dramatically.
“Some chicken!” he shouted. The audience burst into applause.
Churchill waited carefully till all sound had died down. “Some NECK!” he thundered.
That brought the house down with cheers and a standing ovation.